Olympic diving champion Tom Daley’s husband has had an assault allegation thrown out after the judge found “inconsistency and weaknesses” in the case against him.
Dustin Lance Black, 49, was on trial in London on Wednesday after he was accused of “aggressively” twisting a woman’s arm and spilling her drink in a local nightclub.
However, after hearing a day of evidence, Judge Louise Joanna Ciecióra said: “The inconsistency and weaknesses in her evidence were beyond simple matters of credibility and reliability - they are fundamental to the case.
“For that reason I consider the prosecution’s evidence.... could not convict Mr Black. I therefore dismiss the charge.”
Following her ruling, Mr Black said: “I am pleased that the judge saw the truth today and ruled in my favour.
“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.”
Defence lawyer Helena Duong had described the case as “inherently weak and inconsistent” and alleged that Ms Edwardes had “lied about her own demeanour”.
“In my submission, when you are faced with such unreliable and inconsistent evidence that flies in the evidence of the CCTV, you can put a stop at this stage,” Ms Duong said.
Ms Edwardes had later admitted to punching the film director to the back of his head after he walked away from their interaction, and received a police caution.
Mr Black denied the single charge of assault and was due to argue he acted to defend himself.
Opening the case at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning, prosecutor Adrita Ahmed said: “Essentially it’s an altercation in a nightclub.
“The Crown’s case is the defendant grabbed Ms Edwardes’ wrist and twisted it, and the drink has gone over her.
Talking behind a screen in the witness stand, Ms Edwardes said she had travelled to Soho from east London with a group of friends, including Amber Gill, a former contestant on Love Island who she had been dating.
She began speaking to Mr Daley at the bar and described the initial conversation as “pleasant” and offered the Olympian a drink.
The couple later joined her and her friends at their booth, yet things became heated after she asked security to move another man from their area.
Ms Edwardes told the court she noticed Mr Black “didn’t seem to be very happy with me” and that he told her “I had made him feel uncomfortable since I got there.”
In a body-camera clip caught by a Metropolitan Police officer, Mr Black can be heard saying that Ms Edwardes had been trying to remove his friend, adding: “They didn’t want a non-famous person at the table”.
During her evidence, Ms Edwardes said Mr Daley had tried to calm his husband down, telling him to stop. She claimed Mr Black then grabbed her left wrist and twisted it as she held a drink in her left hand.
“It caused my drink to go all over me and over Amber as well,” she said, describing the twist as “very hard, really aggressive”.
However, CCTV of the incident was unclear due to the angle of the camera, but showed Ms Edwardes pursuing Mr Black as he headed towards the exit, before punching him in the back of his head.
She admitted punching the film director and told the court she attempted to apologise when police arrived.
“I went over to apologise but he wasn’t willing to apologise back,” she said.
When throwing out the case, judge Ciecióra said: “The crown says she consistently confirmed Mr Black grabbed her wrist. She did say that but she was not consistent.
“She said at one point she could not remember a wrist grab clearly and I found that an odd statement, as she had made public statements on social media and to the police to the effect this is what happened. She then said she was sure it had happened and that was an obvious contradiction.”
When questioned by defence barrister Helena Duong, Ms Edwardes was confronted with many of her own social media statements which included a meme of a tattooed chest with the words ‘No Ragrets’.
She conceded she had initially not mentioned the allegation that her wrist had been grabbed, and she had branded Mr Black a “d***head”, followed by: “Pretty much unprovoked he threw an entire drink over me in Freedom. I didn’t have a drink to throw back so I chose violence.”
She added to her followers: “Tell me why he is crying outside saying it was a targeted attack, saying he is traumatised.”
In some of her social media posts, she admitted making jokes about the incident and referring to it with laughing faces, and that she referred to “pesky CCTV”.
Ms Duong suggested to Ms Edwardes: “What you did was to effectively exaggerate and add to what you say Mr Black did.”