Alastair Campbell denies George Galloway's street assault claim

Alastair Campbell has described as “totally untrue” claims highlighted by MP George Galloway that he hit and spat at a man who was abusing him in the street.

Tony Blair’s former spin doctor has denied the allegations, which were passed to Galloway, the Respect Party MP for Bradford West, that he lashed out at the 61-year-old man when he called Campbell “the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen in the street”.

In a blog post published today, Campbell says he was returning to his north London home after a jog, when a man started shouting “abusive and aggressive” things at him as he approached. Campbell says that he did not respond to the man’s initial insults and put his “arm out to his shoulder to stop him coming any closer”.

“If there was any contact at all it was minimal,” he writes. “I walked on a few steps, thought he was doing the same but he turned back, followed me, continued to abuse me and when I turned around he came towards me and aimed a kick at me which came into brief contact with my leg. He then moved back but came forward again and spat at me, most of the spit landing on my shirt, some on my face. I then turned and walked away.”

The man, who has remained anonymous, told the Ham and High newspaper that Campbell “struck out” and hit him on his left shoulder after he insulted him.

He told the paper: “I turned to confront him and said, ‘That is assault, you should be in prison, not running around the streets of London.’ At which point spitting ensued and then I aimed a blow with my foot that did not connect. Nothing that I did was illegal and he had no right to punch me.”

The Ham and High today published CCTV footage of the incident, which Campbell claims shows neither the initial provocation nor the subsequent assault. Campbell says that he will be asking Camden council to “expedite any FOI request to [see] footage from a CCTV camera in the area which may have captured the whole encounter.”

On his blog, Campbell writes: “The fact that [the man] went to Galloway rather than the police, does not wish to be identified, and wishes to have his claims made anonymously through Galloway’s office, speaks volumes.”

The row inevitably played out on Twitter with Galloway and Campbell throwing insults at one another and their followers rallying behind them. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010