Former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik called police to report he had been victim of a politically-motivated attack after being sprayed with coloured powder.
But it would appear the incident may instead have been a prank carried out by students celebrating the Hindu festival Holi.
Mr Opik, 49, was filming outside the School of Oriental andAfrican studies in Bloomsbury, central London when three young men in their twenties came up to him and threw dye at him before running away.
The MP turned TV presenter said he was “shocked and astonished” that “anybody could be so aggressive and stupid” and called police to report an assault.
He said: “I think I’m known for having a sense of humour but frankly this kind of thing is incomprehensibly stupid. I wonder if the people who did it will think it was funny enough to deserve the convictions which they are likely to get as a result.
Hit with powder: Lembit Opik“While some people might think it’s funny to cover others with coloured powder, and to spray it into their eyes, this kind of action simply demonstrates that there are people with absolutely no understanding of how to behave.
“I’m not usually inclined to raise matters incourt, but it’s obvious that if they were willing to do it to me, then they’ll be likely to do this to other people too.”
Mr Opik said he believed the incident was politically-motivated, and likened it to when Tony Blair was attacked with purple powder in the House of Commons by Fathers 4 Justice protesters in 2004.
That led to changes in security arrangements with a glass partition installed separating MPs from the public gallery.
The former MP, who had romances with weather girl Sian Lloyd and one half of pop duo the Cheeky Girls, told the Standard: “The thing is, you can’t live your live behind glass. That’s why this is so serious, and dangerous.”
The incident happened at the same time as hundreds of students were celebrating the ancient Indian festival that involves people throwing coloured powder at each other to celebrate the start of spring and love.
UCL and SOAS’ Hindu societies organised the three-hour event in Gordon Square,Bloomsbury on March 19 from 2pm – the same time that Mr Opik was interviewing members of the public for his weekly show on Iranian government owned PressTV.
It is not clear whether Mr Opik was aware of the celebration.
On a Facebook page to promote the festivities the organisers said: “We are determined more than ever to bring you one of the biggest, most colourful and exciting Holi celebrations yet!” advising attendees to wear old clothes and that bags of “Holi powder” were available to buy for £1 each, adding: “Don’t forget…WATER GUNS AND BALLOONS ARE MORE THAN WELCOME ;)”
After losing his seat in the 2010 general election Mr Opik has appeared on a string of reality TV shows including Come Dine With Me and I’m a Celebrity.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called to Russell Square following reports of an alleged common assault.
“It was alleged that three suspects approached the victim, a 49-year-old man, and threw a powder at him before running from the scene into a crowd of people. The victim did not require medical treatment.”