Bakers' assistant cleared of assault

A SOLICITOR with City firm Baker & McKenzie has been cleared of attacking a gay airline steward in a brawl at a cashpoint machine.

Stephen Sumpton was acquitted at Southwark Crown Court of assaulting Neil Chambers causing actual bodily harm.

Sumpton, a 27-year-old assistant at Bakers, was alleged to have assaulted Chambers after shouting homosexual abuse at him.

He claimed he was acting in self-defence and said he was terrified of getting Aids after being bitten by the alleged victim.

Sumpton, of Wapping, east London, denied calling Chambers a “dirty poof” and told the court: “I have nothing against gay people at all.”

He added: “But all I could think about after being bitten by someone who I then found out to be gay was perhaps getting Aids. I was completely gutted.”

The incident took place near a Midland Bank cashpoint lobby in London's Covent Garden. Chambers had been out celebrating with friends when an argument broke out.

Jason Dunn-Shaw, prosecuting, alleged Sumpton had threatened to kill Chambers, and that the attack had left him with a gash on the nose and bruises.

Sumpton, whose costs will be paid out of central funds, declined to comment after the case.

However, Baker & McKenzie partner Tim Steadman said: “The matter has been dealt with internally and he will continue to work for the firm.”