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Prosecutors ask judges to resume Joey Barton domestic abuse trial

Mr Barton previously denied assaulting his wife, Georgia, in June 2021, but the case was paused in 2022.

Prosecutors have asked judges to order that the trial of Joey Barton over domestic abuse allegations should resume after criminal proceedings against him were paused.

The former footballer was accused of assaulting his wife Georgia in a drunken row and was due to face trial at a magistrates’ court in 2022, but 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 that 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, is now appealing against the decision at the High Court in London, with barristers claiming on Wednesday that a fair trial “was possible”.

Tom Little KC, representing the DPP, said in written submissions: “The appellant submits that the judge was wrong in principle in concluding that in refusing to call the complainant to give evidence, the prosecution was deliberately manipulating the trial process to deprive the defence of an opportunity to elicit evidence that undermined the prosecution case.

“The prosecution, consistent with its policy on prosecuting domestic abuse cases, had to strike a sensitive and careful balance between the expressed interests of Georgia Barton and the public interest in prosecuting cases of alleged domestic violence where there is sufficient evidence to prosecute notwithstanding that the complainant does not support, and does not wish to give evidence for, the prosecution.”

In court, Mr Little said: “A stay simply was not open to the judge on any view of the facts before him and the case should be returned to the magistrates’ court for trial.”

Mr Barton was manager of Bristol Rovers at the time of the trial and alleged assault and played for teams including Manchester City, Newcastle United and French side Marseille during his career.

He 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 on June 2 2021.

Mr Barton had denied a charge of assault by beating (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Mr Barton had denied a charge of assault by beating (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

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 that she was injured accidentally when friends intervened in an argument between the pair, having both drunk “four or five bottles of wine”.

She was not due to be called as a prosecution witness during the trial over fears she would give an untruthful account of events, but lawyers for Mr Barton said that this would leave him at a disadvantage as it meant she could not be questioned over inconsistencies in her evidence.

District Judge Andrew Sweet adjourned the case and paused criminal proceedings in October 2022, claiming it would “be unfair for Mr Barton to be tried”.

Mr Little said that pausing proceedings was a “last resort” and that the case should be allowed to resume.

Simon Csoka KC, representing the former footballer, said prosecutors made a “deliberate decision” to ask police not to speak to Mrs Barton about her evidence and that refusing to interview or call her as a witness was an “unfair tactic”.

He said: “The crown could have called Mrs Barton and the crown could have asked permission to treat her as a hostile witness but that is what might have been. It was not the decision that the crown made.”

In written submissions, he continued: “To paraphrase the inappropriate language in the application, the Crown Prosecution Service brought the administration of justice into disrepute by deploying unfair tactics and interfering with the clear duty of the officer in the case to investigate.

“The decision to issue a stay was a reasonable one, even if another judge may have decided it differently.”

Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Saini will give their judgment at a later date.

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