A photojournalist who was assaulted by “yellow vest” activist James Goddard has revealed he received “numerous threats” and months of verbal and physical abuse after the incident, which took place at a demo in Manchester.
Joel Goodman was working a shift for the Manchester Evening News on 9 February covering the “yellow vest” protest and counter-demo at Piccadilly Gardens when Goddard (pictured) twice grabbed at his camera.
Goddard, 29, was convicted of common assault yesterday and fined £300. He was also ordered to pay £50 compensation to Goodman, £500 in prosecution costs and a £30 victim impact surcharge.
The protester was also filmed on a body-cam telling Goodman: “When there’s no police around here, I’m going to take your head off your shoulders.”
Goddard was cleared of a public order offence of using threatening words or behaviour after District Judge Mark Hadfield found the threat of violence was not “immediate” at Manchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Following the court hearing, Goodman has revealed the threats he received from Goddard’s supporters since the incident meant he was advised by the British Press Photographers’ Association and the National Union of Journalists to be “extra vigilant” both while at work and in his personal life.
He also said Goddard’s actions had harmed his reputation as a photojournalist and exposed him to violence.
In a statement last night, Goodman said: “Mr Goddard’s direct threats have caused me to suffer months of verbal and physical abuse, both on social media and in person. As a consequence of his actions on the day, and his subsequent published statements, I have become a target for violence.”
He added: “Supporters of Mr Goddard have approached me when eating dinner at McDonalds, when out shopping and when covering events entirely unrelated to their campaign.
“They have propagated the lies he broadcast about me and shared threats on social media, accompanied by my photo. I have received numerous threats via Facebook and Twitter.”
Goodman denied he has supplied photos to Hope Not Hate, an anti-fascist group which monitors actions by right-wing protesters like the “yellow vest” activists, saying Goddard’s supporters had used this claim to justify targeting violence and abuse towards him.
However, he added that even if he had taken photos for the group, “this would in no [way] have mitigated” Goddard’s actions.
He went on: “Such abuse is not acceptable against anyone, under any circumstances, and, in convicting him, I am glad the court has made this clear.
“Mr Goddard and his supporters are entitled to demonstrate freely within the law and photojournalists such as myself are entitled to report on such events, free of the fear of violence and intimidation.”
Showing solidarity with Goodman, the BPPA said in a statement that it welcomed Goddard’s conviction, adding: “No legitimate newsgatherer should ever be subjected to fear, violence or provocation in the course of their work.”
Goddard, who represented himself in court yesterday, surreptitiously held up a piece of paper with the words “Pussy coward leftist soy boy” on it as his victim began giving evidence in the witness box.
The BPPA added: “Mr Goddard’s courtroom outburst today, taunting his victim while giving evidence against him, only underlined the sheer hatred this man harbours towards our media and his contempt of the judicial system.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Photographers should not be assaulted or abused for doing their job. It is clearly in the public interest that we get to see what happens on the streets and at public demonstrations.
“We hope the conviction sends a strong message to others and acts as a deterrent to those who want to inflict violence against journalists.”
MEN news editor Todd Fitzgerald also shared a message of support, tweeting: “Proud to call you a colleague, Joel.
“The dignity and professionalism you showed during the incident – and since – has been incredible. Solidarity, my friend.”
Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire