Polish ambassador says his staff have dealt with ‘15 or 16’ hate crimes since Brexit vote

Arkady Rzegocki described the killing of Arkadiusz Jozwik as ‘a very important tragedy’

Tom Peck
Wednesday 31 August 2016 20:47
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Polish Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki alongside Harlow MP Robert Halfon (right) in Harlow
Polish Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki alongside Harlow MP Robert Halfon (right) in Harlow

Poland's Ambassador to the UK has visited the town where a Polish man was attacked and killed in a possible hate crime by six teenagers who, according to the local MP, “literally come from the sewers”.

The Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki described the killing as "a very important tragedy", and said his staff had deal with "15 or 16 such situtations" since the June referendum.

Arkadiusz Jozwik, who was 40 years old, was attacked on Saturday night and died on Monday from head injuries.

“It is a very important tragedy and we have to work together on this issue," Mr Rzegocki said, before confirming he would attend planned “march of silence” in the town on Saturday.

Speaking alongside Rzegocki, Halfon delivered a strongly worded statement.

Halfon said: “I’m very proud of our Polish community in Harlow. The Polish people work incredibly hard and have opened up some lovely shops and helped regenerate parts of our town and employed more people.

“What has happened is an incredible tragedy. We need to find out the truth… This is not just a tragedy for the family or for Poland, it is a tragedy for Harlow and Britain as well.”

The 40-year-old and another Polish man were set upon outside a row of takeaway shops in what Essex Police believe was an unprovoked attack at around 11.35pm.

With regard to the Brexit vote fuelling hate crime, Mr Halfon said: "I believe that the vast majority of people who voted to leave the EU did for noble reasons.

"I do have a view that a very small minority - and I stress that these kinds of awful things are done by a minority - it (the referendum) is being used by people who come from the sewers who want to exploit division and have their own racist agenda. They literally come from the sewers."

Mr Jóźwik’s brother said he was killed after he was heard speaking Polish outside a pizza shop in the town in Essex.

In a written statement, the MP said: “We must do more than be horrified. We must actively stand up against racism of any kind.

“We must welcome Polish and other communities just as we would welcome our best friends and we must all work together to ensure that Harlow remains a kind, decent and tolerant place to live.”

“We should be celebrating the hard work and positive contribution of the migrant communities that greatly benefit our society.”

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