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Beaten up clergyman leaves hospital after attack

PUBLISHED: 14:10 17 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2010

CANON Michael Ainsworth returned home from hospital today (Monday) after being violently attacked outside his church 12 days ago. The 57-year-old was beaten up by two Asian youths in the grounds of his St George-in-the-East in Shadwell on May 5.

By Gemma Collins

CANON Michael Ainsworth returned home from hospital today (Monday) after being violently attacked outside his church 12 days ago.

The 57-year-old was beaten up by two Asian youths in the grounds of his St George-in-the-East Church in Shadwell on March 5.

The thugs shouted violent abuse at the clergyman, who was wearing his clerical collar, in what police are treating as a 'faith hate' attack.

The Rev Alan Green, Tower Hamlets' Area Dean and Chair of the Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum, appealed for the clergyman to be left in peace to recover.

Mr Green, vicar St John on Bethnal Green, said: "I am delighted to say that Michael is now out of hospital and recuperating well.

"The whole community has been shocked and appalled by this cowardly attack.

"Any incident that involves an element of abusive faith-related language should be handled with the utmost seriousness.

"The Diocese of London takes any assault against members of the clergy very seriously and we have had excellent support from the local police on this matter.

"We are, however, looking to work more closely with both the local council and police authorities in developing long-term strategies that help to ensure the safety of our clergy and the general public in areas such as churchyards."

Mr Green spoke of his work with police and Tower Hamlets Council to ensure the safety of clergy in churchyards where they are "potentially vulnerable to physical attacks."

He said: "This only underlines the importance of the crucial work that the Tower Hamlets Inter-Faith Forum is undertaking in East London, bringing together representatives from our local faith communities, Tower Hamlets council and the police to monitor and respond to all reported faith-hate incidents.

"This ensures that we protect people of all faiths or none and maintain the good relations that exist among our diverse population."

gemma.collins@archant.co.uk

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