Bruised politician praises sentencing but questions why ‘religiously aggravated assault charge’ was dropped.
A drug addict, who assaulted Bradford MP George Galloway in a politically-aggravated attack in London earlier this year, was sentenced to 16 months in prison last week.
39-year-old Neil Masterson, kicked and punched the Respect MP for Bradford West as he posed for pictures in Notting Hill in August, leaving Mr Galloway in need of hospital treatment for cuts and bruises to his head and ribs.
The 60-year-old former Labour MP speaking in court, said he believed he would have been killed should Masterson have been armed with a knife, and his family are now in a ‘constant state of worry’ whenever he goes anywhere alone.
In a victim impact statement read in court, Mr Galloway said he was still suffering pain from his injuries adding: “I now need to have someone with me while working.”
Masterson, of Kensington, had previously admitted assaulting Mr Galloway and a second charge of common assault against a man who had been posing for a picture with the Respect party representative.
Upon his arrest, the 39-year-old, who was wearing a pink shirt with the Israeli Defence logo on, said he felt ‘morally justified’, labelling the victim a ‘Nazi’ with a shameful attitude toward Jews.
Judge Aidan Marron QC, told the attacker: “While you are no longer facing a charge of religiously aggravated assault, it would be unreal to ignore that the motivation for this…was your profound hostility to Mr Galloway’s views.”
He added that Masterson’s ‘loathing’ of Mr Galloway was manifested by what he did at the start of the assault and said afterwards in interviews.
In reply to this sentiment, Mr Galloway also questioned why the charge of ‘religiously aggravated assault’ was dropped and if the ‘shoe was on the other foot’ would it be a different matter.
“If an Asian man wearing a Palestinian T-shirt had attacked a pro-Israeli MP would the sentence have been the same?” he said.
Mr Galloway was attacked on Friday 29th August by Masterson with the latter mentioning the holocaust and calling the victim an ‘anti-Semitic little man’. His actions came just days after the politician had labelled his home city of Bradford an ‘Israeli free zone’ amidst the conflict between Israel and Gaza.
Masterson was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday 11th December.