National Gipsy Council president Hughie Smith will need a police escort when he visits a North Yorkshire travellers' camp, because of fears of fanning the flames of an already volatile situation.

Smith, 73, was ordered by magistrates at Harrogate today to stay away from the Thistle Hill Caravan Camp on the outskirts of Knaresborough - where he is manager - except for a once a week trip on which he must be accompanied by a police officer.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of using threatening behaviour towards Peter Varey at the camp on December 21 and the Crown dropped an allegation of making threats to destroy property.

His nephew, Charlie Smith, 36, denied a charge of assault on James Varey and both men - who live at the Harrogate district's other gipsy camp, at Springs Lane, Bickerton, near Wetherby - were bailed to attend a pre-trial review on February 10.

At an earlier hearing the prosecution claimed visits to the site by the Smiths would lead to further incidents by inflaming a situation which was already volatile and a blanket ban was imposed.

Presiding magistrate Sandra Mason told both men they had not to interfere with prosecution witnesses including the Vareys and had to stay away from the camp, except for one visit a week when police would go with them. Any notice to quit should be served by someone else.