Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told a court he feared for his wife and her friend when he had a traffic cone "slammed" on his head by a "threatening" group of protesters.

Sir Iain told a district judge at Manchester Magistrates’ Court he, his wife Betsy and one of her friends were subjected to a "cacophony of sound" by a group of protesters who followed him, banged a drum and hurled abuse and insults as they walked in Manchester city centre on 4 October last year during the Conservative Party conference.

The 68-year-old MP said he turned around after the cone was "smacked down" on his head and told the group "you are pathetic" as his party walked from the Midland Hotel to the Mercure Hotel, where he was due to speak at a fringe meeting about Brexit.

He said he felt the protesters were "peculiarly threatening" and said he was particularly concerned for the safety of his wife and her friend Primrose Yorke.

He said the protesters "frightened those with me, and myself".

"I have seen a lot of protests in the course of my time as a politician," he said.

"I’m normally not overly concerned.

"People normally make their points, but not in a threatening way.

"This, I felt, was threatening, it’s as simple as that. I think they set out to be threatening."

‘It was abusive’

Sir Iain told the court: "It was threatening, it was abusive and my wife and her friend felt that particularly."

The MP was giving evidence at the trial of Elliot Bovill, 32, of no fixed address, who denies common assault.

Bovill is on trial with Radical Haslam, 28, from Salford, and Ruth Wood, 52, from Cambridge, who both deny using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

The court was shown CCTV footage of the moment the cone was put on Sir Iain’s head as the party crossed a small road.

"I got a traffic cone slammed on to my head," he said.

"I got three-quarters of the way across and I felt this blow on the back of my head and neck.

"I could feel something going on to it which knocked my head forward."

Sir Iain said he took the cone off his head and turned round.

"I didn’t know who had done it. ‘You are pathetic’, I said, and I dropped the cone," he added.

Sir Iain said: "It had been smacked down on my head quite hard.

"They are proper traffic cones and have to weigh a certain amount."

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