09:35 - I have just returned from breakfast with Helen Michael at Cafe Buzz in Finchley. Helen is putting a brave face on things. She had difficulty sleeping and is still rather shaken. As a business owner, she commented that she had to open for business but has a headache and is feeling very stressed.
She reported that Police had interviewed her again at 11pm last night. They also took the video image of a car in a loading bay which was on Helens phone. Also joining us was a local Conservative Councillor, who came to offer Helen his support. He asked me not to report his comments, which of course I shall respect.
The Hendon Times is reporting that Mr Coleman has been released on bail.
The Evening Standard has also reported on the case
I actually visited Helen Michael at Cafe Buzz twice yesterday. The first time was to attend a visit by the GLA to Finchley High Road. The delegation was lead by Barnet GLA rep Andrew Dismore and Enfield rep Joanne McCartney. Labour councillors Arjun Mittra, Pauline Coakley-Webb and Tory David Lonstaffe also attended. The group had a short meeting in Cafe Buzz with Helen Michael, then went for a walkaround North Finchley. The purpose is to feed into a report on High Street regeneration.
Rather ironically I was just about to write up a blog of this meeting, when Helen Michael called me at 16:36 to tell me she'd been assaulted. I of course immediately drove to Cafe Buzz, to find Helen being interviewed by Police. Other witnesses were also being interviewed. Helen showed me several bruises.
She was visibly shaking at the time and looked close to tears. I consider Helen to be a good friend and I felt quite upset and enraged by what had happened. I will not report the specifics of the incident (on legal advice). I tweeted the incident and shortly after the phone started ringing. By 6pm, a small gathering of friends and local labour councillors had arrived to offer support.
The police then called to inform Helen that the suspect had been arrested.
Helen is a strong character and has tried very hard to put on a brave face. I am worried about the effect this may have on her. I have advised her to see the doctor ASAP. As she has new staff in the cafe, she is rather stressed about leaving them to run the show.
It is clear to me that this is not an issue about politics. Whatever our perspective, there are things we shouldn't do. Last night, I saw Helen, who is maybe 5'4" and of slight build, shaking and near to tears, trying to hold it together. I cannot possibly describe how disturbing I found this sight. There are days when I feel physically sickened by the behaviour of my fellow men. This is one of those days.
If you care about common decency, please do whatever you can to let your local councillors know that assaulting women (or men for that manner) is never acceptable.