Police investigating clashes outside Chinese consulate in Manchester says ‘number of offences’ identified

The Greater Manchester police, which is investigating clashes that took place at the Chinese consulate last month, said it identified “a number of offences including assaults and public order offences”.

Police said their team of investigators has been gathering a range of evidence “including CCTV, police body-worn video, mobile phone footage, and witness statements from as many people involved as possible” to understand what actually happened on 16 October outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester.

The police statement did not elaborate on the exact “number of offences” that took place that day, but highlighted the incident of a man in his 30s who was left “with several minor physical injuries after being allegedly assaulted in the Consulate grounds”.

The man, who had earlier been identified as Bob Chan, was allegedly assaulted on consulate grounds. He had said he was part of a peaceful pro-Hong Kong democracy rally outside the consulate.

Mr Chan, who has lived in the city since leaving Hong Kong, was seized by a group of men after putting up posters outside the building criticising China’s president, Xi Jinping.

In a statement, a senior police official, Chris Sykes said: “We’re continuing to gain a clearer understanding of the timeline of events that led to an initially peaceful protest escalating in the way it did, and this has seen us identify a number of offences and potential suspects and victims.”

Mr Chan told the Press Association at the time that he thought he “might be beaten to death because once you’re through the gates, anything can happen. There’s nothing the police can do because they’re not supposed to go through the gate.”

He claimed he was left with cuts and bruises all over his body, and a senior diplomat was accused of being involved.

Zheng Xiyuan, the diplomat, was seen in footage pulling Mr Chan’s hair and yanking him into the Chinese consulate in Manchester.

“This is a sensitive but, importantly, an objective investigation that will involve us working for as long as required to speak to all those concerned to achieve as many answers as we possibly can, and we will continue to provide updates where necessary in due course,” Mr Sykes said.

Earlier this month, Apsana Begum, a member of parliament from the Poplar and Limehouse constituency, wrote to the Secretary of State for foreign affairs, James Cleverly, to emphasise the need to protect the right to protest and free expression.

“I am conscious that these events have taken place outside of my constituency,” she wrote.

“However, given that I have received representations from constituents fearful that what happened outside the consulate in Manchester is not an isolated incident and given the Chinese Embassy in Poplar and Limehouse, I would be most grateful for any update as to exactly what will happen to consular officials who have been properly identified as being involved in this incident?” she asked.

Ms Begum also demanded to know “what steps will he take to avoid a repeat of this shocking incident” and added that the right to protest and principle of free expression was important, as was “the protection of those who have fled repression in other countries”.