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Union rep hurt in CTRL scuffle

Stephen Byers' department investigates alleged assault on Ucatt official due to speak at Hochtief/Murphy Channel Tunnel site

THE GOVERNMENT has launched an investigation after claims that an official from construction union Ucatt was attacked by security guards at the Channel Tunnel Rail Link site in Kent.

South east regional official Brian Rye had to be treated in hospital after the incident last week at the Hochtief/ Murphy 320 site in Swanscombe.

Ucatt general secretary George Brumwell said: 'This whole affair is totally outrageous. Our sponsored MP Michael Clapham has reported this to Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, whose office is now calling for a full report from those involved.'

An eye-witness to the alleged assault said Mr Rye was pinned to the floor for 20 minutes by three security guards.

Fellow union official Ron McKay claimed: 'One security guard grabbed his arm, one grabbed his other arm and his leg and the other leaned on his back for 20 minutes until he passed out.

'They ground him into the concrete.

It was a prolonged and vicious assault.'

Two police cars were called to the scene before an ambulance took Mr Rye to hospital in Dartford. He was released on the same day after treatment for cuts and bruises.

Problems arose when Mr Rye arrived to give a 'canteen talk' to union members on the site.

Mr Brumwell said: 'We've been trying to get on that contract for some time. We finally satisfied all Hochtief/ Murphy's queries and made an appointment to visit last Monday.

'But when Brian got there he was directed to a portable building a long way from the canteen. He said he wanted to speak in the canteen - in the time-honoured tradition - then all this happened.'

A Hochtief/Murphy statement said Mr Rye had arranged to visit the site but turned up on the wrong day.

It states: 'Mr Rye and Mr McKay began to make their way onto site without permission and security personnel tried to prevent their access by standing in front of them.

'Mr Rye became abusive and attempted to push past. A security supervisor took hold of Mr Rye's arm to lead him off site but he retaliated by striking him in the chest. Site security restrained Mr Rye and called the police.'

Hochtief/Murphy added that when the police arrived they appeared to be satisfied that site security had acted appropriately by preventing unauthorised access to the site.