Jailed, heroin addict who beat up George Galloway
MP attacked in street for his views on Israel
A MAN was yesterday jailed for brutally attacking outspoken MP George Galloway in the street and calling him ‘anti-semitic’.
Drug addict neil Masterson, 39, l eft the pro- Palestine Respect Party MP with cuts and bruises to his head and ribs and requiring hospital treatment after the frenzied assault.
Masterson, who was wearing a pink Tshirt with an Israeli Defence Force logo when he was arrested nearby, told police he felt ‘morally justified’ in attacking the Bradford West MP because he was a ‘nazi’ with a ‘shameful’ attitude towards Jews, Isleworth Crown Court heard.
The court heard Dundee-born Galloway believes he would have been killed if Masterson, who had ‘recently undergone a conversion towards Judaism’,
‘I no longer go anywhere alone’
had been armed with a knife during their chance meeting.
Masterson was jailed for 16 months for the assault on the MP and two months for attacking Dr Mostafa Maroof – who had been posing for a picture with the MP at the time of the attack – to be served concurrently.
Last night Mr Galloway welcomed the sentence but questioned the decision to drop a charge of religiously aggravated assault.
he said: ‘The sentence is reasonable in the circumstances. however, had the charge of religiously aggravated assault not been dropped I’m sure it would have been considerably longer and I fail to see why that charge was dropped given that he was wearing an IDF T-shirt and screaming about Israel and me.
‘If an Asian man wearing a Palestinian T-shirt had attacked a pro-Israeli MP would the sentence have been the same?’
The court had earlier heard a victim impact statement from Mr Galloway in which he described still being in pain from his injuries and how it had left his wife and children in a ‘constant state of worry’.
‘I no longer go anywhere alone’, he wrote.
The court heard that Masterson had been a functioning heroin addict for 25 years but had been ‘cold turkey’ for two weeks at the time of the attack.
Defence barrister Jonathan Mann said it was ‘a very bad piece of coincidence’ that put him in Golborne Road with the MP in notting hill, London.
he said his client was a normally peaceful and tolerant man to those with different political views, but his conversion had drawn him towards confronting what he felt was ‘a rising tide of anti-semitism dressed up as anti-zionism’.
Mr Mann added: ‘he felt Mr Galloway was at the epicentre of those that were attempting to justify their anti-semitism in that way... he felt, that he (Galloway) was making things worse by some of the public comments that he made.’
Mr Mann said that after serving his sentence Masterson has been offered flights and a place on a Kibbutz in Israel where he plans to spend up to a year volunteering.
Masterson, of Kensington, who used to work for the Department of Work and Pensions and as a manager at the BBC, had previously admitted assaulting Mr Galloway. he also admitted a second charge of common assault against a Moroccan man who was with the MP as the attack happened on August 29. Judge Aidan Marron QC told Masterson: ‘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.’
The court heard the attack on the 60-year-old former Glasgow Kelvin Labour MP included ten punches and a ‘Kung-fu’ attack which caused the MP to fall into the road, where Masterson continued hitting him.
Prosecutor Michelle nelson said Masterson admitted to police he said, ‘Anti- semitic little man, I f****** despise you’, during the attack and described Galloway as ‘ a morally and intellectually bankrupt person’.
She added: ‘ he f elt he was morally justified in assaulting Mr Galloway. he said he thought Galloway was a nazi and his political views were hate.’
‘Felt he was morally justified’
Assault: Addict Neil Masterson is a Jewish convert
Outspoken: George Galloway MP, 60