Conservative MP Guy Opperman mistakes black activist watching House of Commons Drugs Policy debate for footballer Mario Balotelli

The Tory MP for Hexham tweeted that the Liverpool striker had 'popped in' to Westminster dressed in "a sharp pink suit and a poppy". Only it wasn't him.

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The Independent Online

Quite why Mario Balotelli could possibly have fancied a trip to Westminster to "pop" in on the Drugs Policy debate at the House of Commons today remains unclear.

But the Liverpool striker has a history of doing the unexpected. Like randomly driving into a women’s prison to "have a look around" and burning down his own bathroom after attempting an indoor fireworks display using the wrong type of fireworks.

Which might well have added some credence to claims, originally made by Conservative MP for Hexham Guy Opperman, that he’d spotted the Italian sportsman watching the political drama unfold in the public gallery today.

"Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has popped in to Commons Gallery to watch the Drug Policy debate -wearing sharp suit, pink shirt and a poppy," Opperman tweeted, spawning a series of confused tweets from journalists squinting to work out whether they were in fact in the presence of the Italian international – or whether the politician had embarrassingly mistaken him for a random black guest.

Turns out, the latter was correct. As Balotelli was about 220 miles away in a different city.


"Mario Balotelli was and still is at Melwood Training Ground," Liverpool Football club confirmed.

"I get that all the time," the doppleganger said.


Turns out, 'Not Balotelli' is actually a man almost twice the striker's age - 55-year-old activist and youth worker Ken Hinds, who regularly works with the police on matters such as gang related violence.

At the moment, he's campaigning against the use of police stop and search methods in relation to drugs possession.

"I was sitting down watching the debate and I was approached by a number of MPs asking me if I was Balloteli," Hinds told The Telegraph outside the Commons yesterday.

"I had to disappoint them and say no - but he is a great man and I am only privileged to associated with man like that.

"I was in the debate because I am the chairman of Haringey stop and search monitoring group, we definitely know that drug play a big part in stop and search.

"In my community, which is one of the poorest boroughs in the country we know that two thirds of the stop and search is around drugs."