George Galloway assault: Man charged over ‘attack’

A 39-YEAR-OLD man has been charged with a religiously aggravated assault on controversial MP George Galloway, who was left battered and bruised in an alleged street attack.

The Twitter photo shows George Galloway on his way to hospital after being attacked. Photograph: @ukrespectparty/Twitter/PA

The Respect MP was released from hospital yesterday after the alleged assault in west London, which left him suffering a suspected broken jaw and rib as well as facial injuries.

The Scot, a prominent supporter of the Palestinian cause, had been posing for pictures with members of the public on Golborne Road in the capital’s Notting Hill area when the incident took place. A man was arrested by police shortly afterwards and questioned by detectives overnight.

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The Metropolitan Police said Neil Masterson, 39, of Camden Hill, London, will appear before Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

The force said he was charged with “assault by beating which is religiously aggravated on a male in his 60s and also common assault on a male in his 40s”.

It was understood the second charge related to a member of the public who stepped in.

The MP for Bradford West gave a statement at Notting Hill police station before being treated overnight at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. He was discharged at around 6am yesterday.

The Respect Party released a photo taken of Galloway’s battered face as he was on his way to hospital.

His spokesman said Galloway had described himself as being “in pretty bad shape”.

The picture, circulated on the social networking site, Twitter, showed two red lumps on his right temple.

Wearing a black jacket and white shirt, Galloway looked defiant. “The Respect Party thanks all well-wishers,” 
the accompanying message said.

The image was retweeted and favourited hundreds of times by site users, some of whom sent messages of support.

Linda McGregor, a Respect Party member from Scotland, sent her support saying: “This act of weakness from his attacker will only bring strength to George and his followers… #Unity #Peace.”

Sean Caden, an Australian supporter of Galloway, tweeted: “Best Regards, George! ­The thugs shall not silence us! Keep up the amazing work!”

Chris McNamee wrote: “The truth will never be silenced no matter now much violent thugs try to intimidate you.”

Galloway’s spokesman did not know whether the attacker was an Israeli, an English Defence League-supporter or had some other motivation for attacking the MP.

Galloway, a former Labour MP who represented Glasgow Hillhead (which became Glasgow Kelvin) from 1987 to 2005, was interviewed under caution earlier this month by West Yorkshire Police following a speech in Leeds.

Speaking at a meeting of Respect activists in Leeds, he called for Bradford to be “declared an Israel-free zone”.

Galloway’s comments, posted on YouTube and Facebook, prompted a storm of comment on social networks.

He told the meeting: “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods; we don’t want any Israeli services; we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college.”

He added: “We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if 
any of them had thought of doing so.

“We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel – and you have to do the same.”

Conservative MP Robert Halfon dismissed Galloway’s remarks as an “ill-considered rant that will cause great offence to many”.

Officers said two complaints had been made about the speech, but Galloway later said he stood by his comments.

His spokesman, Ron McKay, said the remarks were an extension of a boycott and direct action movement against supermarkets and companies supporting Israel.

“George stands by the comments – he thinks they are quite reasonable,” said McKay.

“The reason he made them is because there’s mass carnage and mass slaughter going on against the people of Gaza. Direct action helped in the struggle against apartheid.”