Broadcaster Paul Henry has told a court that being confronted by angry protesters was "extraordinarily threatening" .
Henry gave evidence today in the trial of Diego Leonardo Chavez, 35, who is accused of assaulting during a protest outside SkySity in AUckland earlier this year.
Henry told Auckland District Court he was meeting a friend for drink before attending a charity lunch when he was caught up in the protest.
Chavez, today wearing a hoodie emblazoned with "anti-capitalist", was allegedly at a protest outside Prime Minister John Key's post-Budget speech at SkyCity events centre on May 22.
Henry described how he was suddenly surrounded by "semi-deranged" people who were "screaming at the top of their voice, right in front of me".
"It was very threatening, extraordinarily threatening," he said.
"That's the huge issue for me. It was very aggressive. A couple of them were screaming at me right in my face, literally just standing there right in my face. So the options were reducing and it felt like it was becoming more and more inflamed."
Henry said he could not pick out exactly what was being said to him but thought he heard a chant of "mouthpiece of the rich".
Then as he was shepherded away, he was allegedly attacked.
"From behind, someone spat on me and I was pushed. For me that was the final straw. People have a right to protest and expression is very important and should be upheld. But this was way beyond where people should go," Henry said.
"The thing I mostly remember was being spat on, which is just such a vile thing to do."
He told the court he did not want to show the impact the incident had on him.
"There's a fair amount of bravado involved when you're a male and I was very conscious I didn't want people to see I was harassed or that there was an emotional strain on me but the reality is it's a very frightening situation, something like that," he said.
Chavez, 35, is facing one charge of assault, after police withdrew a lesser charge this morning.
The transcript of Chavez's initial police interview was read to the court this morning.
Though he would not answer all questions, Chavez voiced some strong opinions about Henry, whom he described as "racist".
"If Paul Henry says I [shoulder-charged him] you can't believe him because he's a liar and a racist ... just turn on the TV," he said.
In the interview, the officer in charge of the case, Sergeant David Mayes, suggested Chavez had taken the opportunity to "teach [Henry] a lesson".
"What I say is that if he's going to walk on the street with his bigotry and making fun of people, that's going to happen," Mr Chavez replied.
Sergeant Mayes said there were about 50 protesters outside the convention centre on Federal St by about 11.30am on the day of the alleged incident.
Police had repelled the group after they "rushed" a police line but his attention was drawn to two men who appeared to have drawn the attention of some protesters.
Sergeant Mayes said he was informed one of them was Henry, who was arriving for an unrelated charity event.
"It was clear it was not a cordial conversation," he said.
SkyCity security tried to intervene but the protesters prevented Henry's escape, the court heard.
Police eventually got into position to protect Henry and his associate but Mr Mays said Chavez managed to run around the back of them.
"He launched himself off the ground, turned his shoulder and collided with Paul Henry's back, causing him to stumble forward," the sergeant said.
Instead of risking the wrath of the crowd, Mr Mays said he informed officers to keep an eye on Chavez, and did so himself.
He described the defendant as "very distinctive" - "very small with a wide mouth and sallow skin".
Chavez was eventually arrested some hours later upon leaving the Shakespeare Hotel pub on Albert St.
If found guilty of the charge, Chavez could face up to a year in jail.
The trial, in front of Judge David Sharp without a jury, is expected to conclude this afternoon.