UK Politics

Nick Clegg hit by blue paint in Glasgow protest

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie
Image caption Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie was also splattered with paint

A man has been arrested after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was splattered with blue paint in Glasgow.

Mr Clegg's suit and face were struck as he arrived at Woodside Hall in the west of the city for a meeting with Lib Dem Party activists.

The BBC understands an anti-cuts campaigner has said he carried out the attack in protest at the Lib Dem coalition with the Conservatives.

A man, in his 20s, is being held for an alleged breach of the peace.

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie and police officers were also splattered by paint, said BBC correspondent Raymond Buchanan.

A website is reporting that a man who left the Liberal Democrat Party after the last general election was behind the attack.

The claim, made on a site named Indymedia Scotland, has not yet been verified, our correspondent said.

'Symbolic protest'

"It says that the blue paint was symbolic; a protest against the Liberal Democrat leader's decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives and to embark on a cuts agenda," he said.

As Mr Clegg entered the Glasgow hall, paint was thrown in his direction and struck his face and the back of his suit, but left him uninjured.

The incident happened at about 17:45 BST, shortly after Mr Clegg had emerged from his car.

Mr Clegg appeared to shrug off the incident, telling Real Radio Scotland: "These things happen. It's not a big deal."

A spokesman for Mr Clegg later said: "Nick certainly was not going to let it stop him from talking to Glaswegian Liberal Democrats about their concerns.

"Nick's got three children under-10, he's not worried about a bit of paint."

Speaking after the attack, Mr Rennie said the incident was down "two disgruntled individuals" whose behaviour had "obscured any message that they may have had".

"It's just disappointing he didn't speak to us because we would have perhaps been able to answer his questions," Mr Rennie told the BBC News Channel.

"We didn't know any of that and Nick never got an opportunity to answer these questions, so that was a bit disappointing.

"We are in the coalition here in the national interest - trying to sort out the economy, the mess that was left behind, sorting out things like jobs and opportunities. If he had discussed those sorts of things we could have tried to address them."

Laughing, he added: "I've always wanted a blue streak in my hair but my mother wouldn't let me."

The Liberal Democrats suffered a disastrous Holyrood election in May, a year on from entering into government with the Conservatives.

The party was reduced to just five MSPs, compared to 16 in the last Parliament, with leader and Shetland MSP Tavish Scott standing down two days after the election.

The deputy prime minister has been on a tour of the north of England and Scotland over the past few days.

Mr Clegg's engagement went ahead despite the incident, our correspondent said.