Lembit Opik reports 'assault' to police after coloured powder was thrown at him during Hindu festival Holi

Former Liberal Democrat MP had coloured powder thrown in his face

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The Independent Online

The former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik told police he believed he had been the victim of an assault when he was sprayed with coloured powder.

Mr Opik called police to report the alleged incident which took place while he was filming outside of the School of Oriental and African studies in Bloomsbury in central London, near to where hundreds of students were celebrating the Hindu festival Holi, according to The London Evening Standard.

During Holi, which is known as the Spring festival of colour, people will often throw dry powder and coloured water at each other.

UCL and SOAS’ Hindu societies organised the three-hour event in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury on 19 March from 2pm the same time that Mr Opik was interviewing members of the public for his weekly show on Iranian government owned PressTV.

Mr Opik, who has appeared on various reality television programmes after losing his seat in the 2010 election, told The Standard: “I think I’m known for having a sense of humour but frankly this kind of thing is incomprehensibly stupid. I wonder if the people who did it will think it was funny enough to deserve the convictions which they are likely to get as a result."

He likened it to when the former Prime Minister Tony Blair was attacked with purple powder in the House of Commons by Fathers 4 Justice protesters in 2004. The incident led to a glass partition being installed to separate MPs from the public gallery.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Opik said he does not believe the alleged incident was related to the Holi celebrations.

"I was a filming with a camera crew and there was no demonstration and no celebrations going on near us. Three men ran down the corner within a metre in front of me and threw the stuff into my face," he said.

"I wouldn’t be able to ascribe motives to it, but I think it was in part an effort to disrupt filming. If we had not been stood there without a camera, I don't think it would have happened.

"It had overtones of an assault, rather than of a cultural activity.

"Witnesses were appalled by it."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called to Russell Square following reports of an alleged common assault.

“It was alleged that three suspects approached the victim, a 49-year-old man, and threw a powder at him before running from the scene into a crowd of people. The victim did not require medical treatment.

“Officers from Camden borough began an investigation into the circumstances. This has since been closed pending the receipt of any new evidence or information.”