Daley’s relief as husband cleared in £10,000 case over spilt drink
THE Oscar-winning husband of Olympic diver Tom Daley was cleared of assault yesterday in an extraordinary court case over a spilt drink which cost taxpayers £10,000.
Dustin Lance Black, 49, spoke of his relief after a judge dismissed the charge at the end of the prosecution case, clearing him of twisting the wrist of BBC3 presenter Teddy Edwardes to throw a drink over her in a nightclub.
In a farcical case described as a ‘persecution’, the director and screenwriter was charged with assault by beating and summoned to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a one-day trial estimated to cost taxpayers £10,000 after Ms Edwardes complained that he aggressively grabbed her wrist in a late-night fracas.
But a judge threw out the case halfway through the trial, before the defence presented its rebuttal, issuing an excoriating judgment which condemned Ms Edwardes for telling lies and being evasive on the stand.
Daley embraced his husband in court, having been prepared to give evidence on his behalf.
Yesterday there were questions about why police and prosecutors decided to proceed with the minor matter, which Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring had described three months earlier as ‘not the most evidentially strong case’.
Mr Black, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay for 2008’s Milk, described the judge’s dismissal as a ‘moment of exoneration’.
He said: ‘This case has flown in the face of everything that I am.
‘I am very grateful to the judge for exonerating me.’
The trial heard police were called to a Soho nightclub on August 18 last year after Ms Edwardes drunkenly punched Mr Black in the back of the head, leaving him with a concussion. Weeks after the attack, for which she received a police caution, Ms Edwardes concocted a new narrative claiming she had lashed out only after the father-of-two started shouting at her, grabbed her wrist and threw a drink over her.
Summing up the spat, prosecutor Adrita Ahmed said: ‘Essentially, it’s an altercation in a nightclub.
‘The Crown’s case is the defendant grabbed Ms Edwardes’ wrist and twisted it, and the drink has gone over her.’
But Mr Black’s lawyer insisted he was merely reaching for her glass to tell her she’d had too much to drink after Ms Edwardes approached Daley at the bar.
The champion diver was on a rare date night with his husband when they sat with Ms Edwardes and her then-girlfriend, Love Island star Amber Gill. A row broke out after a fan tried to join them and Ms Edwardes called over security.
Yesterday district judge Louisa Ciecióra threw out the case after hearing the prosecution evidence, saying it amounted to little more than a drink being spilled. She said: ‘Ms Edwardes said that she did not see a difference between a drink being spilled and her wrist being twisted as the outcome is the same, but of course there is a difference.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, grabbing a glass causing a drink to fall on the floor would not in this case amount to assault.’
The judge described the BBC presenter as ‘confrontational’.
‘I noted that she gave different accounts, she said that Mr Black threw an entire drink over her, then she said she threw a drink in her face,’ she said. ‘Those accounts were simply not true.’
Ms Edwardes’ credibility was called into question by social media posts in which she cracked jokes about the incident, gave varying descriptions of the alleged assault, and referred to ‘pesky CCTV’.
Mr Black, who flew to London from Los Angeles for the case, said he had lost £600,000 in earnings as a result of the prosecution, which was dogged by problems with officers losing interview tapes and statements.
In an earlier hearing, Mr Black’s lawyer Helena Duong said: ‘When one steps back and looks at the imbalance of the prosecutions of Mr Black and Ms Edwardes, it can begin to feel a little like a persecution, not a prosecution.’
‘I am very grateful to the judge’