Patten 'hit and pushed at protest'

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The Independent Online
JOHN PATTEN, Secretary of State for Education, yesterday claimed he was pushed, shoved and struck with a placard as demonstrators screamed abuse outside a meeting of local Tories in west London.

Mr Patten said Clive Soley, Labour MP for Hammersmith, was involved in the protest which flared into the ugliest scenes the Secretary of State claims to have witnessed during his two years in the post.

He is to write to John Smith, the Labour leader, demanding that he denounces the protest and dissociates himself from such 'loony left' behaviour.

Mr Patten had been invited to attend a local government election meeting yesterday at which he was presented with a petition requesting he send in a government 'hit squad' to take control of Hammersmith School which inspectors say is 'failing'. He claims that one protester tried to pull him from a car as he attempted to retreat, accompanied by an 80-year-old school governor and a woman with her nine-year-old son.

Mr Soley said the allegations were 'totally untrue . . . It was an angry but totally controlled demonstration', and has written to Mr Patten demanding their withdrawal.