Press Release 16 March 2013
A campaign has been launched to defend a youth worker who was arrested and taken from his home by Newcastle police late at night, following an earlier incident involving Nick Forbes, the Labour councillor who spearheaded sweeping cuts to Newcastle’s public services.
Father of a six-year-old, Michael MacDonald, 34, of Benwell, was arrested around 10:15pm on February 16th and held more than four hours in police custody. At the time of the arrest, MacDonald, know by friends and colleagues as ‘Don’, was the sole adult in charge of his young son.
Project Manager, Michael Bell of Patchwork, a youth project worker that has been delivering services to the community of Benwell for over a decade said of MacDonald, “He is a peaceful man and a great role-model for the children he works with. Don is well-loved by the kids and is respected throughout the community services of the city.”
‘If it can happen to Don, it can happen to anyone’, is the slogan of campaign.
This has been set up to raise public awareness of what campaign co-ordinator Stuart Robertson describes as “an abuse of power by those in authority on a hard-working family man”.
A petition, demanding all accusations against the youth worker are dropped, has received over 630 signatures so far, including John McDonnell, a Labour MP in Middlesex. It’s not certain if any Newcastle MPs will add their name to the growing petition defending the Benwell community worker.
Labour Councillor, Forbes contacted the police after reportedly feeling threatened by ‘Don’ MacDonald. Forbes has not brought forward any evidence or witness statement alleging violence by Mr MacDonald. MacDonald was issued with a fixed penalty notice for alledgedly ‘causing harassment, alarm or distress under section five of the Public Order Act. He denies all accusations against him, and has returned the notice, saying he will challenge the alleged claim against him and the police action in court.
More details of the campaign and petition can be found at the website https://defencecampaign.wordpress.com/