The Northern League leader and his separatists found public sympathy for once yesterday after a police raid on their Milan headquarters ended with several supporters being stampeded and crushed. The police, acting on the orders of a Verona magistrate, arrived at the party building on Wednesday evening with a warrant to look for "anti-constitutional material", in particular any written evidence of plans to set up an independent national guard for their statelet of Padania.
The raid quickly turned sour when Umberto Bossi and League members formed a human barricade at the entrance. A crush formed, in which several people were injured. Mr Bossi's deputy, Roberto Maroni, spent the night in hospital after he was pushed to the ground and kicked in the head. The incident could not have been a greater gift to Mr Bossi as parliament ended its summer recess.
Andrew Gumbel - Rome