British business minister attacked with custard

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A protester hurled a cupful of custard at Peter Mandelson’s face as he was arriving at a London summit on carbon strategy.

London -- A protester threw green custard in the face of British business minister Peter Mandelson on Friday, in a stunt to highlight opposition to a new runway at London's Heathrow airport.

Mandelson was arriving for a London summit on carbon strategy when protester Leila Deen approached him and hurled a large cupful of custard straight in the former European Union trade commissioner's face, at close range.

Mandelson bent over, turned away and hurried inside, while the protester picked up papers she had dropped and calmly walked off.

"Mandelson is trying to make political capital out of climate change," said serial campaigner Deen, a member of the group Plane Stupid, which has staged several protests over plans to build a third runway at Heathrow. "The only thing green about Peter Mandelson is the slime coursing through his veins. We can't let the 'Prince of Darkness' cast his shadow over west London."

“The Prince of Darkness” is Mandelson's nickname, earned for his media spinning skills.

The incident appeared to raise security questions, since Deen, 29, approached Mandelson unchecked and walked off freely afterwards.

Mandelson, who returned to the British government in October, seemed unfazed by the stunt, saying he did not fear for his security and people should not over-react.

"It could have been nastier," the 55-year-old told reporters later -- minus his splattered coat. "Whilst I'm prepared to take my fair share of the green revolution on to my shoulders, I'm less keen on having it on my face. In a sense I guess I should be grateful to the protester for helping us to put this very important subject on the map."

However, he added: "I would rather people said it to my face than threw it in my face."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said no arrests had been made and an investigation would only be launched if a complaint was received.

"It's a light-hearted way of making a very serious point,” charity worker Deen told BBC television. “I don't want to get up early in the morning and go and throw custard over Peter Mandelson but quite honestly nobody is doing anything about the fact that this unelected individual is putting the interests of business before people and the planet.”

Deen added: "Peter Mandelson had it coming. Everything he touches turns to sleaze."

Bookmaker William Hill is taking bets on which popular dessert would next be hurled at a British government minister, with spotted dick the 3/1 favourite.


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