Army veteran, 58, who slapped ex-servicewoman’s bottom at Royal Navy charity fundraiser after downing up to six glasses of wine and laughed it off as ‘banter’ is cleared of sexual assault
- Mark Forsyth, 58, slapped the woman during event at Admiralty House
- He admitted common assault but told the jury he had no memory of the incident
- ‘That slap has cost you £1,000’ judge at Southwark Crown Court told him during sentencing
Published: 17:44 BST, 30 May 2019 | Updated: 18:29 BST, 30 May 2019
Mark Forsyth, 58, denied sexual assault and instead admitted common assault, after successfully arguing there was no sexual motive behind the slap
A former Tory mayor who gave a woman a ‘comradely’ slap on the bottom at a Royal Navy charity fundraiser was today cleared of sexual assault.
Mark Forsyth, 58, admitted touching the woman during an event at Admiralty House in Whitehall on February 2 last year, but told jurors he had no memory of the incident.
He denied sexual assault and instead admitted common assault, after successfully arguing there was no sexual motive behind the slap.
Forsyth told Southwark Crown Court he had five or six glasses of wine at the event and was ‘a bit happy.’
As the event ended, the former mayor approached the woman to give back his name tag.
‘She was collecting name badges and so I went to give her my badge and thank her for a good evening,’ said Forsyth.
‘I don’t recall much apart from thanking her for the evening and being very pleased and that was about it really.’
Asked if he remembered slapping her bottom he said: ‘No I don’t but I don’t dispute that. I am happy to accept.
‘I accepted that it was common assault, there was no sexual intent.’
The ‘slap on the bottom’ happened after a Royal Navy charity fundraiser at Admiralty House in central London
Forsyth said the incident had been ‘prattish behaviour’ and claimed the slap had been too hard to be sexual.
He described the incident as ‘military style banter’ in his statement when he was first questioned by police.
Prosecutor Paul Casey read the statement which said: ‘The defendant accepts that as he was saying goodbye he slapped her on the bottom and attempted to give her a hug.
‘He thought he was engaging in military style banter and was being comradely.’
Forsyth, the former Conservative mayor for Bradley Stoke near Bristol, spent 23 years in the British army, including postings in Cyprus and Bosnia.
The jury of six men and six women took five hours and 50 minutes to clear Forsyth of sexual assault and instead convict him of common assault.
Judge Martin Griffith told Forsyth: ‘There is no doubt at all that this was out of character but it was utterly disgraceful in the 21st century.
Forsyth, pictured outside court later told police he often gave female friends a ‘slap on the bottom’
‘I have no idea why, well, I have some idea, why you are standing here in this dock after years in the army and those years working in defence.
‘In drink at this event and for some reason which I do not understand, you hit that young lady.
‘I can only think it was the drink. It was a bulling thing to do for which you should be very ashamed.
‘She was vulnerable and you took advantage of that.
‘I can’t ever think you would have struck a male soldier or marine in that way because I can only believe that you would end up going to the dentist due to his reaction.
‘Don’t drink so much at events and if you do, hit a man who might hit you back.’
He was given a fine of £750 and was further ordered to pay compensation of £250.
‘That comes up to £1,000. That slap has cost you £1,000,’ Judge Griffith said.
Forsyth, of Frampton Cotterell, Bristol, was cleared of one count of sexual assault but admitted one count of common assault.