A judge has recused himself from further hearings in a stalking case involving Lord Bassam of Brighton because they knew each other some years ago.
In the meantime, Judge Martin Huseyin made a 12-week interim hospital order for a further assessment of the defendant Christian Sant.
Sant, 44, a former charity trustee, of Glenwood Lodge, Grand Parade, Brighton, is due to be assessed at the Chichester Centre, in Graylingwell Drive, Chichester. The centre is run by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
He is accused of stalking Lord Bassam, also known as Steve Bassam, the former council leader in Brighton and Hove, and his wife Jill Whittaker, causing them serious alarm and distress.
Lord Bassam, 68, has been a member of the House of Lords since 1997 and serves on the party’s front bench. Jill Whittaker, 62, is a lawyer.
The stalking was said to have taken place over almost four months – from March to June – and to have had a substantial adverse effect on the couple’s usual day-to-day activities.
An earlier hearing was told that Sant repeatedly sent letters to the couple and turned up at their Brighton home.
Sant, who was a trustee of the Due East charity until about 2015, was also charged with common assault in June.
At Lewes Crown Court this afternoon (Monday 6 December) Judge Huseyin said: “I knew Mr Bassam, as he was then, pretty well … but that was about 36 years ago … and I haven’t seen him since.
“I would be prepared to recuse myself (today) if there was any objection.”
There were no objections from Martin Yale, prosecuting, or Gareth Burrows, who was representing Sant. Mr Burrows consulted Sant who also raised no objection before the hearing continued.
The judge added that he would recuse himself from any future hearings partly “given the nature of some of the defendant’s beliefs”, including his concerns about “the links between people”.
Sant has so far been the subject of reports by two doctors – Moustafa Saoud and Katie Glennon – having exhibited “paranoia and grandiose beliefs”, the court was told.
The interim hospital order was made under section 38 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Sant is due to return to court on Monday 21 February.