Leeds & West Yorkshire

Respect party harassment claim by Bradford East MP David Ward

David Ward
Image caption Police said they were appealing for witnesses to the incident on Wednesday night

Police are investigating claims that a Bradford MP was subject to "aggressive behaviour" from the Respect party while out campaigning in the local elections.

David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, has complained to police about an incident on Folkestone Street in the city on Wednesday night.

He said he was out canvassing when he was intimidated by Respect supporters.

Respect spokesman Ron McKay denied the claims and said the party was considering making its own complaint.

Mr Ward claims Respect members shouted abuse and told him to "get off our streets".

He said his car was then surrounded and the situation got "quite aggressive and unpleasant".

'Bruised ego'

Mr Ward said: "In elections things always happen, tempers get heated, things are said.

"But seriously, this kind of behaviour is not right."

He added: "There needs to be a clear statement that this is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the future.

"I'm now in a situation where if I want to deliver leaflets I'm worried about going on my own.

"I've been doing it 20-odd years quite comfortably but would I now send my staff out to do such work? I'm not sure it would be a wise thing to do."

Mr McKay described the allegations as "very, very, very limp claims" and alleged that one of their supporters was assaulted.

He said: "If an exchange of views is seen as harassment then we're in a sad place for democracy."

He added: "If these people want to waste police time, because they clearly appear to be doing so, then we will have to join the queue to waste police time too.

"Nobody was hurt, an ego was bruised. We will review it later and decide whether we will be making our own complaint."

In a statement, West Yorkshire Police said officers were called to Folkestone Street at about 21:00 BST on Wednesday to reports of a verbal altercation.

It said: "Officers are investigating and trying to trace people who were involved.

"Police want anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward."

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