UK

Joey Barton to face new trial over allegation of assaulting wife

The former footballer was accused of assaulting Georgia Barton in a drunken row – which he denied.

Proceedings against Joey Barton had been paused in 2022
Proceedings against Joey Barton had been paused in 2022 (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)

Joey Barton faces a new criminal trial over an allegation he assaulted his wife, judges at the High Court have ruled after proceedings against him were previously paused.

The former footballer was accused of assaulting Georgia Barton in a drunken row – which he denied – and was due to face trial at a magistrates’ court in 2022.

However, the case was adjourned after Mrs Barton sent a letter to prosecutors retracting her allegations.

A judge then ordered that proceedings be paused over concerns a trial would be unfair to Mr Barton after prosecutors said they did not plan to ask Mrs Barton to give evidence in court.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Parkinson, appealed against the decision at the High Court in London, with barristers claiming at a hearing last month that a fair trial could go ahead.

In a judgment on Friday, two senior judges ruled in the DPP’s favour and said Mr Barton should face a trial over the allegations in front of a different judge.

In a 20-page ruling, Dame Victoria Sharp said the previous judge’s decision “was wrong in principle”.

Mr Barton was accused of grabbing his wife by the throat and kicking her in the head during a row outside their home in Kew, south-west London, where they had been with two other couples in June 2021.

He denied a charge of assault by beating after he was arrested by police at his home, with Mrs Barton said to have been left with a golf ball-sized bruise on her forehead and a bleeding nose.

But Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court heard in March 2022 that Mrs Barton wrote to prosecutors a month before the scheduled trial to claim she was injured accidentally when friends intervened in an argument between the pair, having both drunk “four or five bottles of wine”.

Mrs Barton did not support the prosecution and was not due to be called as a prosecution witness during the trial over fears she would give an untruthful account of events.

Lawyers for Mr Barton said this would leave him at a disadvantage as it meant she could not be questioned over inconsistencies in her evidence.

However, Dame Victoria said the prosecution is only obliged to call witnesses who have provided witness statements they plan to rely on and it was not “an abuse of process” to not call Mrs Barton.

She continued: “In the circumstances of this case, it would have been proper for the defence to have called Mrs Barton, and for the prosecution to have cross-examined her.”

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Saini, added that Mrs Barton had never provided a witness statement and had also “expressed an unwillingness from the outset to give evidence against her husband”.

Dame Victoria concluded: “No prejudice could conceivably have been caused to Mr Barton if Mrs Barton had been called by the defence, or by the court for that matter.”