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11 October 2023

Security review as Starmer says glitter protester attack could have been ‘a lot worse’

11 October 2023

Sir Keir Starmer acknowledged the situation could have been “a lot worse” when a protester grabbed him on stage during his conference speech, as Labour reviews his security.

The Labour leader told on Wednesday how he was determined to push on with his address in Liverpool rather than let an “idiot” disrupt his pitch to the public.

The heckler tipped glitter over Sir Keir and grabbed him just as he was about to begin his set-piece speech, sparking security concerns.

Sir Keir told Times Radio “my overwhelming feeling was ‘I am not going to let you ruin four years of hard work in this party'.

“I just wanted to get on with the speech and that’s why I rolled up my sleeves and got on with it,” he added.

“I didn’t want that idiot to interrupt that and I don’t want that idiot to dominate what I’ve got to say today.”

The Labour leader told LBC radio there was a “struggle” on stage and he believed the protester tried to pull him to the ground.

“I was not going over and I was not going to leave that podium, I was going to deliver that speech,” he said.

Sir Keir said he checked his wife, Victoria, who was in the front row of the conference hall, was all right before continuing, with remnants of glitter in his hair and on the shoulders of his shirt.

“It did feel a bit like a five-a-side moment where someone is trying to get the ball off me. Channelling the inner Arsenal obviously,” he said.

He added to Sky News: “It could have been a lot worse.”

The protester, identified as Yaz Ashmawi, was wearing a T-shirt linking him to a group called People Demand Democracy shouted that “politics needs an update” and that “true democracy is citizen-led”.

Sir Keir, who has put great emphasis on shifting the party since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, said “protest or power, this is why we changed our party” before getting on with his speech.

Labour shadow justice minister Shabana Mahmood has said she expects “questions are being asked” surrounding security.

“We will want to make sure that nothing like that can ever happen again,” she told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

The 28-year-old from Surrey was arrested on suspicion of assault, breach of the peace and causing public nuisance, Merseyside Police said.

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