Wednesday 3 November 2010

Smiling woman stabbed MP Stephen Timms over Iraq war

A woman stabbed a London MP twice in the stomach in revenge for him voting for the war in Iraq, the Old Bailey heard today.

Muslim Roshonara Choudhry, 21, smiled before she plunged the knife into Stephen Timms, who thought she was about to shake his hand at a meeting in east London.

Choudhry, of East Ham, is charged with attempted murder but refuses to recognise the court. She has instructed her legal team not to attempt to seek a not guilty verdict.

Mr Timms told how the woman, dressed in black, had booked an appointment at his weekly Friday afternoon surgery in the Beckton Globe community centre.

“I was sitting and I rose to greet her,” he told the court. “At that point I thought she must have been coming to shake my hand. She looked friendly and was smiling,” said the Labour MP for East Ham and a former Treasury minister. “Then she lunged at me with her right hand and it struck me here (pointing to the left of the middle of his stomach). I think I knew I had been stabbed although I didn't feel it at the time. I cannot actually recall seeing the knife.”

The court heard that Mr Timms, 54, cried out “what are you doing?” but Choudhry remained silent. The MP went on: “She stabbed me twice and I retreated although I was still not absolutely certain I had been stabbed. I retreated to the gents', lifted up my jumper and saw a lot of blood.”

Mr Timms was taken to the Royal London Hospital for emergency surgery and has now recovered to retake his seat in the Commons.

Choudhry, of East Ham, has insisted on not entering the court and is receiving legal aid.

The jury was shown dramatic still photographs from the CCTV cameras of Choudhry approaching the MP with her left hand extended as if in a handshake but with her right holding the knife behind her bag.

As Mr Timms reeled backwards from the attack days after the May general election, Choudhry was grabbed by security guard Faizal Butt and the three-inch knife was wrestled from her hand by him and the MP's assistant, Andrew Bazeley.

When police arrived they found she had a second knife with a five-inch blade in her bag.

Interviewed by detectives, Choudhry admitted she had intended to kill Mr Timms and had taken the second knife in case the first had broken during the attack, the court heard. She said she “was not going to stop stabbing (the MP) until someone made me”.

Asked why she had carried out the attack, she replied “punishment” for Mr Timms voting in favour of the Iraq war. She had acted “to get revenge for the people of Iraq,” she said.

Choudhry has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and two charges of possessing an offensive weapon in May this year. It is believed to be the first time in living memory that a defendant has banned her lawyers from asking for a not guilty verdict.

At a pre-trial hearing she refused to enter a plea so the judge ordered that a not guilty plea be entered on her behalf. The trial continues.


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