Mugged MP brands attackers 'total scum'

AN MP who was beaten and mugged by a teenage gang as she walked along an East Lothian beach has branded her attackers "the scum of the earth".

Anne Moffat, Labour MP for East Lothian, was taking an evening stroll along a beach path when she was knocked unconscious by a group of youths.

Speaking to The Scotsman last night about her attackers, she said: "They are total brutes, scum of the earth. If I had been an elderly woman I wouldn't have survived the attack."

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She added: "My injuries will heal but the trauma and shock will not go away.

"It was terrifying. I start shaking and get really tearful every time I think about it. What that gang did to me was terrible."

Ms Moffat, who divides her time between Westminster and her home in Port Seton, was knocked out after her attackers pushed her on to rocks.

She also sustained broken ribs and cuts and bruises to her legs, head, hands and face.

As she lay unconscious on the path, the gang of youths, who she said were aged between 18 and 20, stole jewellery from her, including a diamond ring and earrings.

On Friday, the night of the attack, Ms Moffat said she had finished work at her constituency office in Tranent at about 7:30pm.

In an attempt to get fit, the 50-year-old had recently started walking and jogging, so once home she put on her trainers and headed out.

"It was a lovely sunny evening so I decided to walk along the path along the beach," she said.

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Just five minutes into her stroll she saw a group of boys coming towards her.

"I could hear them shouting and swearing. I'm sure they were high on drink or drugs.

"They were pushing each other around and I started to feel uneasy about the situation."

As a precaution the MP grabbed her phone, ready to call for help if the situation turned nasty.

She said: "As they came nearer I moved off the path and kept my head down so I didn't have to confront them but then I heard their voices getting nearer and nearer but I didn't look up.

"Suddenly they were right there – right by me and I started to panic."

She said one of the teenagers pushed her over, knocking her out as her head smashed against the rocks. When she came round, about 30 minutes later, she realised she had been robbed of her diamond earrings, ring, a watch and 20 in cash.

"They must have been kicking me as I've got several broken ribs, a smashed up knee and cuts on my hands," she said.

The group then ran off.

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Still clutching the phone, but dazed and bruised, she managed to ring a friend, who alerted the emergency services for her.

"My face was bleeding and I was in so much pain. Every part of my body hurt and I was terrified because I couldn't piece together what had happened," she recalled.

"My first thought was to ring the police but I couldn't focus on the numbers on my phone. It was terrible.

"I just pressed redial on my phone to contact the last person I'd spoken to.

"Luckily that was a friend who lived nearby. I passed out once while waiting for the ambulance and once in the ambulance. I was in such pain," she said.

The MP was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and kept overnight in the high dependency ward. She was released on Saturday afternoon.

Still recovering from her ordeal yesterday, she insisted: "I'm determined not to let this attack change my life and the way I lead it.

"But, to be honest, I am not sure where this is going to leave me."

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Last night a spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police confirmed they were investigating the incident and appealed for witnesses.

He said: "Between 8pm and 9pm on Friday night a middle-aged lady who was wearing blue jogging bottoms with a pink stripe down the side and a tartan windcheater was walking along the shore path between the old harbour and the new harbour in Cockenzie when she was confronted by a group of youths.

"She fell to the ground and had a number of personal items stolen.

"The youths were a group between four to six males between 18 and 20 years old. One was wearing a Celtic top."

The police spokesman added: "We are appealing for anyone, especially a group of youths who were in the area at the time and may have seen the lady, to get in touch with the police."


ANNE Moffat, the Labour MP for East Lothian, was first elected in the 2001 general election.

She divides her time between the House of Commons in London and her constituency office in Tranent, East Lothian.

Last year the 50-year-old's house was attacked by vandals and she was also the target of numerous death threats, the reasons for which were unclear.

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Last May she controversially compared Alex Salmond, the First Minister, with Adolf Hitler, saying "proportional representation gave Germany Adolf Hitler and in Scotland to a lesser degree we've had the member for Banff and Buchan".

Moffat ran up the highest travel bill of any Westminster politician in 2003-4, at nearly 40,000. A breakdown of her claims was published after a fierce two-year battle for disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act.

Last year, her reselection as the Labour candidate for East Lothian was the subject of an internal party investigation.

She went on to win the reselection vote, despite failing to win the support of a majority of branches. Labour then began an inquiry into the way the ballot had been conducted.