A disabled American actor has caused an internet sensation after using his acceptance speech at a televised US awards ceremony to offer support to the British victim of a disability hate crime attack.
Peter Dinklage was accepting his Golden Globe for best supporting actor in a series – for his role in the fantasy epic Game of Thrones – when he told the audience that there was “a gentleman I’m thinking about in England, his name is Martin Henderson… Google him.”
Henderson is also an actor with restricted growth, who was injured after being picked up and thrown onto his back outside a pub in Wincanton, Somerset, last October.
Dinklage’s reference to Henderson led to film and TV fans across the world using the internet to discover details of the assault.
The attack on Henderson took place less than a month after members of the England rugby team were pictured at a “dwarf-tossing” event in a New Zealand pub during the Rugby World Cup.
Henderson believes media coverage of those England players could have influenced his attacker.
Henderson had undergone surgery for a spinal condition in 2010 and has said the attack – outside the White Horse pub on 7 October – left him with serious back and leg injuries.
Peter Burroughs, a director of Willow Management, the agency for short actors he founded with Life’s Too Short star Warwick Davis, said he and many of the actors they represent were “amazed” to hear that Dinklage had mentioned the attack at the Golden Globes.
He said Dinklage’s decision to refer to Martin Henderson – who Burroughs has worked with in the past – had at least raised the profile of short actors across the world.
But Burroughs said that none of the actors on their books had ever experienced anything like the attack on Henderson.
He said: “It could make certain people think they don’t want to go out. They will feel vulnerable when they are out and that shouldn’t happen.
“I am sure it wouldn’t happen anywhere else. I would hate people to think that is the norm, and it isn’t.”
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman confirmed they were treating the attack on Henderson as a disability hate crime, and wanted to speak to anyone who may have been in the White Horse on 7 October.
He said: “It follows an incident in which a small person was picked up by an unknown person in the bar and dropped. This caused an injury to his back.”
Anyone with information about the assault can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
18 January 2012