George Galloway has ‘punchable face’, says attacker

A former BBC manager who assaulted George Galloway in the street broke a restraining order by sending him a threatening Facebook message referring to his “eminently punchable boat”, a court has heard.

George Galloway had a "punchable boat". Picture: Ian Rutherford
George Galloway had a "punchable boat". Picture: Ian Rutherford
George Galloway had a "punchable boat". Picture: Ian Rutherford

Jewish convert Neil Masterson, 40, launched a Kung-fu kick at the Respect politician as he posed for pictures and then punched him repeatedly when he fell to the ground in Golborne Road, Notting Hill, London, on 29 August last year.

Masterson, who admitted to a “pathological loathing” of the Scottish politician, said he felt the assault was “morally justified” because he thought the former MP was a “Nazi” due to his support for Palestine.

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He was arrested near the scene of the attack wearing an Israeli Defence Forces T-shirt and told officers who interviewed him: “Anyone who is an enemy of Israel is an enemy of freedom.”

The former government worker was given an indefinite restraining order and jailed for 16 months last December for the unprovoked assault, which has apparently left Mr Galloway, 61, unable to hug people without feeling pain.

But after his release on 9 September, Masterson breached the restraining order three weeks later by sending the London mayoral candidate a message on his public Facebook page.

Masterson was recalled to prison for 28 days following the post and today he pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment at Hammersmith magistrates’ court.

Prosecutor Darren Watts said: “The defendant received a custodial sentence for assaulting George Galloway last year.

“He received some 16 months custody on the 7 November for the assault.

“In addition the defendant was handed a restraining order which prevented him contacting Mr Galloway.

“On 30 September the defendant posted a comment on Mr Galloway’s Facebook page.”

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The comment read: “If the denizens of Bradford West with the help of, by his own deranged admission, the Zionists find him unbearable, to the point of unceremoniously dispatching him from office, what on God’s great earth makes him think that a majority of voting Londoners will show him any favour?

“The very fact that he is parading his dreadful, eminently punchable ‘boat’ with a dirt begging bowl, is evidence in itself that anyone with money and sense is rightly turned-off by his deeply cynical motivations.”

“Boat race” is Cockney rhyming slang for “face”.

A statement by Mr Galloway read: “When I read this I felt immediate alarm and fear. I took the comment ‘eminently punchable boat’ as a threat.

“I am fearful that the male will attempt to assault me again, I am constantly looking over my shoulder when I am out of the house.”

Julian Hunt, defending, said: “This is an individual who for many years held down good jobs, he was a research manager for the BBC for four years.

“He worked with the Department of Work and Pensions for two years.

“He had a drug problem at the time but still managed to hold down a full time job.

“Since August last year when he went cold turkey he has progressed incredibly well.”

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District Judge Shenagh Bayn said: “I know nothing about the background to this case, but it is clear you have a problem with Mr Galloway.

“Many people have got an issue with George Galloway but you have got to understand that because of your previous behaviour you cannot air these views.

“You should understand now that you are not free to make any comment at all about George Galloway.”

She added: “Given the fact that you have served a custodial sentence for this matter I’m going to deal with it by the way of a financial penalty.”

Masterson, of Campden Hill, Kensington, was fined £250 for harassment and must pay a £180 court charge and a £25 victim surcharge.