Dustin Lance Black’s U.K. Assault Trial Delayed After Chaotic Start

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black must wait until November to fight charges of common assault in a U.K. court.

He is accused of throwing a drink over BBC Three presenter Teddy Edwardes in a London nightclub last year.

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Having flown in from the U.S., Black arrived at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Tuesday morning expecting the one-day trial to take place. He was accompanied by his legal team.

However it turned out that Court 9, where the hearing was set to go ahead, had been double-booked with another high-priority case. After an hour of to-ing and fro-ing, Black’s trial was moved to Court 1 with Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring presiding over it.

It then emerged that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who are bringing the case against Black, had lost a file containing Edwardes’ police interview and no transcript was available. The police officer who had conducted the interview was not available to confirm whether she still had body-cam footage of the interview or any notes.

Pointing out that Black had spent significant time and resources flying to the U.K. to stand trial on what the Chief Magistrate agreed were relatively low-level charges, his lawyer Helena Duong urged for the case to be dismissed. She also queried whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the trial and “take another day of the court’s time at significant expense to the public purse and to the defendant.”

Having watched a security video of the alleged incident, Judge Goldspring agreed it was “not the most evidentially strong case” and said even if the prosecution proved the totality of its case the likely sentence would fall somewhere between a fine and a “low level community order.”

The judge said the line between dismissing the case and allowing it to be heard was “finely balanced” but ultimately said the prosecution should be allowed to put forward their case. The trial has been rescheduled for early November.

Black’s lawyer said the screenwriter would be making an application for costs if he is eventually acquitted. His legal team have also made an application to the court for the trial to be thrown out due to abuse of process.

During the hearing, which took most of the morning, there was also discussion over a witness statement provided by Black’s husband, the Olympic gold medalist Tom Daley, who was present on the night of the alleged incident. The prosecution had refused to hand over a copy of the statement to Black’s legal team, saying it was irrelevant, until Judge Goldspring ordered it should be handed over.

The altercation between Black and Edwardes took place last August at Freedom nightclub in London’s Soho district around midnight. Edwardes said Black threw a drink over her and twisted her wrist. In retaliation, she said, she punched him in the back of the head. During the prosecution’s opening statement on Tuesday, lawyer Adrita Ahmed acknowledged Edwardes had received a caution for punching Black in the back of the head.

Edwardes was also present in court on Tuesday.

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