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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Genoa Briton to sue
Norman Blair
Norman Blair says he was attacked by Italian police
A Briton who was allegedly beaten by Italian police during the G8 summit in Genoa says he will be taking legal action.

The Italian police were accused of heavy-handedness and brutality after a raid on a building where anti-capitalist protesters were sleeping.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said there will be a full investigation into allegations of brutality which will include the raid on the school, doubling as the headquarters of the protest group Genoa Social Forum.

While I was being tortured by the Italian police Tony Blair was praising them

Norman Blair
Norman Blair, 38, who says he was "kidnapped and tortured by the Italian state", was among several hundred people who on Saturday took part in a demonstration outside the Italian Embassy in London.

Mr Blair told BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost programme: "I have contacted lawyers in Italy and I'm going to be taking legal action against the police in Italy, as is everyone else who was arrested in that school that I have talked to."

He said the raid had been "one of the most terrifying moments in my life" and was like a "police state in operation".

'Torture' centre

Mr Blair insisted the atmosphere in the building had been like a youth hostel with little evidence of violent anarchists.

"We were beaten up straight away - there was no attempt to arrest or question anyone."

Summit violence
The police say the anti-capitalist protesters started the violence
And he said worse followed as he was detained without charge in a holding centre.

"That was a place of torture. I was kidnapped and tortured by the Italian police and the Italian state.

"While I was being tortured by the Italian police Tony Blair was praising them."

He said the Foreign Office had made no effort to contact him or take a statement since his return to the UK.

Movement's strength

But he maintained: "I'm not scared or intimidated.

"They wanted to break me, and I'm not broken, and I feel strengthened and inspired by the strength of our movement around the world."

Mr Blair told how he only suffered a handful of blows but a friend, Daniel McQuillan, 35, was beaten severely.

Daniel McQuillan
Daniel McQuillan says he was beaten by the police
Five Britons have said they were beaten unconscious by police.

John Elliott, working undercover for the Sunday Times, said a policeman has smashed a baton through his cycle helmet, shattering it and knocking him unconscious.

He says he was beaten by police who had also indiscriminately attacked cameramen and photographers.

"Something clearly went very badly wrong with the policing."

Protesters said they had been wrongfully arrested and had endured four days of inhumane conditions before being released without charge.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the government had "spoken to the Italian administration at the highest level and they have agreed that these allegations will be fully investigated".

The BBC's William Horsley
"The prospects for following up these claims do not look promising"
See also:

22 Jul 01 | Europe
Eyewitness: Genoa police raid
26 Jul 01 | UK
G8 Briton 'feared for life'
22 Jul 01 | Europe
Genoa counts the cost
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