Pro Israel fanatic jailed for beating up George Galloway

A former BBC manager with a “pathological loathing” for George Galloway was jailed for 16 months on Thursday for beating him up in the street.

Neil Masterson, 39, approached Mr Galloway while the Respect MP posed for pictures with two Moroccan men in Golborne Road, Notting Hill.

He then punched the Bradford West MP repeatedly and pushed away Dr Mostafa Maroof when he tried to intervene, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

The Scottish MP is now unable to hug anyone without pain and claims he now cannot go anywhere without bodyguards.

Masterson admitted one count of assault by beating Mr Galloway, 61, and common assault on Dr Maroof.

But he denied that the attack on the politician – who he saw as an anti-semitic “serpent” and “enemy of Judaism” – was religiously aggravated and pleaded not guilty to religiously aggravated assault.

Frenzied attack

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Mr Galloway, who suffered facial bruising and spent the night in St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, had described his constituency as an “Israel-free zone” earlier this year.

Michelle Nelson, prosecuting, said Abdul Samir Amiz spotted Mr Galloway alone in the street and asked if he would pose for a photo with him and his friend before Masterson attacked at 7.25pm.

Miss Nelson said: ‘The defendant pushed Dr Maroof to the ground in order to get to Mr Galloway. George Galloway says he saw the defendant running towards him shouting ‘You f***ing bastard’. The others heard him saying words to that effect.

Neil Masterton
Neil Masterton

“Mr Galloway quickly realised the words were aimed at him and that he was about to be assaulted. He is 61 years of age and said the man appeared extremely aggressive and looked powerful and formed the view he intended to harm him.

“In an effort to protect himself, he put his hands across his face and felt a series of rapid blows to his face and torso and the defendant ranted as he did so. He says the defendant launched a Kung Fu kick at him, which he tried to block with his hand.

“This did not make contact with his body but caused him to fall to the ground and his hat and packet of cigars fell to the floor. The defendant climbed on top of him and punched him about 10 times, mostly in the face but some to the upper and lower body.

“Throughout, he kept using profanities and George Galloway said he also heard the Holocaust mentioned, which led him to suspect that this might be a right wing extremist.

“The other men managed with great difficulty to pull him away and Mr Samir had to prevent him returning to Mr Galloway as the doctor helped him off the ground.”

Police were called and Masterson fled the scene, followed by the three men in Mr Galloway’s car. As the men gave chase, the defendant turned back and shouted at them.

Police told them to stop following him, and he disappeared, but reappeared and got on a bus.

Officers arrested Masterson, who was wearing a pink hoodie and a T-shirt with a Israeli Defence Force motif, as he got off the bus.

A small amount of cannabis resin and a half empty bottle were discovered in a grey jacket he had with him.

Impact on Galloway

A victim impact statement from Mr Galloway, who said he thought his attacker would have killed him if he had a knife, was read aloud to the court.

Hospital tests revealed three bruises 1 -2 cms on his forehead, a swollen jaw, bruised ribs and a tender spine. After a CT scan revealed bruising to his facial bones, and he was given painkillers and discharged.

Mr Galloway said: “I still have very painful ribs and take painkillers. Any warm embrace causes me pain, my left knee causes me great discomfort and I fear it will remain evermore.

“I am now on my guard when people meet me. It affects me, my lifestyle and my style of work. I never go anywhere alone, affecting my life. My family are in a constant state of worry and my seven-year-old son is worried and asks if I have my panic alarm to hand. My wife calls me and panics if I do not answer.”

George Galloway is known for his anti-Israel views
George Galloway is known for his anti-Israel views

He is seeking help from the House of Commons and his party for the anxiety he now suffers, he added.

Interviewed under caution, Masterson said he had been on his way to a Sikh shop when he saw Mr Galloway with “two confederates,” suddenly felt “very, very angry” and ran, shouting, towards them.

He branded Mr Galloway a “morally and intellectually bankrupt person,” Miss Nelson said.

She told the court: “He spoke at some length about the harassment the Jewish community suffers, saying they would leave and we will be left with a very very vocal Islamic rump.

“He remembered knocking Mr Galloway’s hat off and said ‘He dared not look at me’ and ‘I saw fear in his eyes’.”

He spoke of “knowingly, willingly and angrily” attacking the MP and added: “I know it sounds pompous, but you know you are doing something right when your enemies are afraid.”

Masterson told officers his motives for the frenzied attack “was to make him realise that this attitude to Jews was shameful and shames all Catholics.”

“I feel like he is a serpent in a way. He is opposed to Israel and anyone who is an enemy of Israel is an enemy of freedom in the country. We need to rip them from the earth.

“Galloway is like a henchman, he has got a fashionable cache that attracts people but I think I know his true character.”

“Pathological loathing”

Masterson, of Campden Hill, Kensington, is a full-time carer for a woman suffering from Crohn’s disease, memory problems and an inflamed gall bladder.

Jonathan Mann, defending, said his client had a “pathological loathing” of Mr Galloway but regretted what he had done after he calmed down.

Judge Aidan Marron QC handed Masterton 16 months in prison for assault and two months for the second count, to be served concurrently. He was also ordered to pay a 100 pounds surcharge.

Judge Marron said: “This was a completely unprovoked and sustained attack involving a kick, an attempted kick and repeated heavy punching. It was a disturbing example of violence in a public setting in front of horrified observors. It would have been much worse and continued longer had not two members of the public intervened robustly.

“Mr Galloway still suffers from real physical consequences as a result and equally significantly, still harbours real anxieties and concerns about venturing out to meetings and the like and takes security staff with him. That has a profound impact on his professional and social life.

“He is a public figure who has to do a lot of public work and is in the eyes of the public who might be vulnerable because of his views.”

Dundee-born Mr Galloway, 60, represented the Glasgow constituencies of Kelvin and Hillhead for Labour and is now a Respect MP in Bradford.

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