Post-Brexit Britain? Two assaults in UK involving Spaniards go viral

First incident, dating from May, involved a man hit with a plank while speaking Spanish in the street

CCTV footage of the moment a man is attacked with a wooden plank.

A British man has been found guilty of assault and bodily harm after smashing a wooden plank into a Spaniard’s face to screams of “Speak English!”

Security cameras captured the moment when a Spanish man was attacked by an assailant in Bournemouth, on Britain’s southern coast, in May of this year.

I have heard more from my attacker than I have from the police or the courts

Tomás Gil, victim

Despite the incident happening earlier this year, the images have only just been released, following the conviction. The attacker, 37-year-old Daniel Way, screamed “Fucking Spanish, speak English” at his victim before hitting him in the face with a wooden plank that he ripped off a nearby establishment.

Way has been sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid community work and a payment of 800 pounds (€900) in compensation to Tomás Gil, a 27-year-old from Valencia who had been living in the UK for four years.

Way also received a 12-month prison sentence, which has been suspended. Gil told EL PAÍS that until then, he had never witnessed or suffered any racist incidents while in Britain.

The attack took place at around 5am on May 19. Gil said that he was inside a pub with a group of friends, then walked out with a woman named Silvia. Both of them stopped to talk for a while.

Racist graffiti was scrawled on a school for Spanish children in London shortly after the Brexit vote.
Racist graffiti was scrawled on a school for Spanish children in London shortly after the Brexit vote.A.C.

The assailant then “came at us from the other side, screaming you fucking Spanish, speak English, and I faced up to him a bit. Silvia told me to let it go. And then... well, you see it in the video: he pretends to leave, gets the stick...and takes good aim.”

Several people who witnessed the attack ran to help him and to restrain the attacker, who was held by security personnel until the police showed up.

Gil’s face was swollen for a week, especially around the jaw, but there were no broken bones or significant injuries. The police telephoned Gil a week later to take a statement from him, and that was when he saw the CCTV footage.

“I told them I was returning to Spain and that my phone number would change, and I gave them my email address,” he says. Yet Gil has had no official news about the court decision or about the compensation that is due him.

In fact, Gil found out through the media after the story first ran in the Bournemouth Echo, then made it into The Sun, Daily Mail and Mirror. Spanish media outlets picked up the story, and a friend of Gil’s added a link on his Facebook wall.

“[Daniel Way] has been in touch with me through Facebook to apologize, I suppose his lawyer must have recommended it. And he told me he needs to start paying me next month... I have heard more from him than I have from the police or the courts,” notes Gil.

Gil says he had decided to return to Spain before the attack. He now works as a social assistant back home. In the four years that he lived in Britain, he worked in a kitchen, at a factory, as a sales representative and as a waiter, and says he saw no racism, “although you do sense a feeling of superiority because you are a foreigner.”

London Tube assault

Another racist assault involving a Spaniard went viral online in recent days. This attack took place on Monday of last week on the London Underground, where a man punched a fellow passenger in the face as a train pulled into a station, then jumped out.

The victim’s wife ran after him, screaming insults in Spanish. Thanks to a cellphone video made by another passenger, the 33-year-old suspect was detained on suspicion of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Jubair Ahmed told the Evening Standard that he is a 31-year-old finance student from Bangladesh and that he has been living in London since 2011. His wife Kilian, who studied in the Spanish city of Seville, says in her Facebook profile that she has worked as a tourist guide and now heads the family business.

There have been several reports of an increase in racist incidents ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union in the so-called “Brexit” vote. There are around 200,000 Spaniards currently living in the UK.

English version by Susana Urra.

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