Far-right Tory fears arson attack on office was 'political'

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Indy Politics

Far right Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said last night that he feared his party was being targeted by a politically-motivated arsonist.

Firefighters were called to the Conservative Club in Romford, east London, at 1am yesterday after an attacker smashed a ground-floor window, poured petrol into the building and set it alight.

The blaze gutted half the ground floor and severely damaged the upper level, where documents and equipment in Mr Rosindell's constituency headquarters were destroyed.

It was followed within minutes by a separate attack on the business of a prominent Conservative councillor, and is the latest in a series of incidents at Tory party premises in the last four months.

Mr Rosindell, an outspoken populist on issues from asylum seekers to the EU, was earlier this month promoted to party vice-chairman.

He said that the attack was the latest in a series of incidents which he believed were being carried out by a "disturbed and violent" individual.

"Someone is deliberately targeting the Conservatives in this area. These two attacks seem to be linked, and I think that the person behind them is politically motivated and suffering from some sort of mental problem."

A police spokesman said: "There are signs that petrol or another accelerant was poured onto the floor after the window was smashed and set alight.

"This was clearly a dangerous attack but inquiries are at an early stage and we are keeping an open mind."

The second attack was on the premises of a removal company run by Alby Tebbutt, a senior Tory member of Haringey Borough Council, which damaged three vehicles and a £125,000 crane.

These same premises, together with the Conservative Club and the Romford Conservative Association, were targeted in December when windows were smashed and vehicles vandalised.

Mr Tebbutt said: "People are now very worried that next time someone is going to be seriously hurt. I hope the perpetrator is caught quickly."

Mr Rosindell, who entered parliament in the last general election following a major swing to the Conservatives, has quickly established himself as one of his party's most outspoken MPs.

The flamboyant member, who campaigned in 2001 with his bulldog Spike dressed in a union flag waistcoat, has criticised Government policy on asylum seekers, saying most should be kept under lock and key. He is also a member of the rightwing Monday Club and in favour of the death penalty and firearm ownership.

Personal details including his home address have been published on the Internet by at least one critic and subsequently removed.

The MP said last night that he believed the attacker was not motivated by national issues and was probably local.

Haringey Borough Council recently passed into Conservative control. The new administration was criticised in local papers after it voted to significantly increase the allowance received by councillors.