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Racist Brighton attack sparks diplomatic spat
A racist street attack at a bus stop threatened to become a diplomatic incident when an ambassador warned his citizens were at risk in Britain.
The assault on two Romanian men in Old Steine, Brighton, was used as evidence by the Romanian ambassador that “inflammatory rhetoric” was whipping up racism.
But city leaders and police reacted by saying Brighton and Hove remains a safe place for foreign visitors.
Two Romanian men, aged 21 and 27, were chased, punched and kicked by two men at bus stops in Old Steine, near the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, between 3am and 3.30am on Friday, January 25.
Their attackers asked them where they were from before launching their assault.
Sussex Police confirmed the attack was being treated as racially motivated. On the Daily Telegraph’s website yesterday, Romanian ambassador Dr Ion Jinga criticised reporting of the lifting of restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK, due at the end of the year.
He wrote: “Emotional approaches to this issue are counterproductive. They do not benefit the British public and they do not benefit the Romanian community in the UK either, as there is an increasing sense among the Romanians here that they are being discriminated and treated as second-class EU citizens.
“In extreme cases, inflammatory rhetoric could even lead to acts of racially aggravated assaults against them, as we have witnessed recently a case in Brighton.”
The Romanian Embassy confirmed he was referring to the Old Steine case, but made no further comment.
“It is a very safe place to be and crime has been going down for a long time.”
Chief Inspector Bruce Mathews, of Sussex Police, said: “The police and council work really hard, in partnership, to make sure we can protect, support and foster a truly diverse community across the city . . . we will take any crime seriously and understand the impact any racial motivated incidents can have on victims.
“Our response to the recent incident shows this.”
l Did you see the assault? One of the men was about 21, about 6ft, slim, and wore a grey sports jacket.
The second was about 23, around 5ft 11in and medium build. They were with two women.
Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 101, quoting serial 361 of January 26, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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