Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has been acquitted of assault in a London magistrates court after a district judge dismissed the case.
District Judge Louisa Cieciora, who was presiding over the trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in the U.K., said based on the evidence she could “not properly convict” Black.
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The screenwriter, whose latest project “Rustin” was released in theaters last month, had been charged with assault following an altercation with BBC presenter Teddy Edwardes at a nightclub in central London in August 2022. He was accused of grabbing Edwardes’ wrist and twisting it, causing a drink to be spilled on her.
Edwardes, the star of BBC Three show “The Big Proud Party Agency, retaliated by punching Black in the head. She received a police caution following the incident.
“This is a moment of exoneration – this case has flown in the face of everything I am and I am grateful to the judge for exonerating me,” a visibly relieved Black told Variety outside the courtoom.
Handing down her judgment, Cieciora said Edwardes had not been “consistent” in her evidence, which was given from behind a curtain in keeping with courtroom accommodations for victims. She also said the CCTV footage did not show Black pouring a drink over Edwardes, as she had claimed, and that the BBC presenter had lied to police about seeing the CCTV video before giving a statement.
“She said in her evidence today she could not remember a wrist grab clearly,” the judge said. “I found that to be an odd statement given she had made public statements on social media and to the police this is what happened.”
Earlier that day the TV personality’s social media posts had been the subject of some questioning by Black’s lawyer. When Edwardes, under cross-examination, said she regretted her actions, Black’s lawyer pointed out she had posted a meme of a tattoo that reads “No Ragrats” after the incident. Edwardes had also written on social media that she had “chosen violence.” In response, Edwardes suggested social media is “not real life,” a statement the district judge said was “not persuasive.”
Black, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay for Gus Van Sant feature “Milk” in 2008, was accompanied in court by his husband, the British Olympic diver Tom Daley, who had been due to give evidence before the case was thrown out.
“I am pleased that the judge saw the truth today and ruled in my favour,” Black said in a written statement distributed to press. “As the evidence has proven, and I have always maintained, I am completely innocent, and in fact was the victim in this case of a serious assault. I am relieved this unfortunate matter is now over.”
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