The man who attacked Rupert Murdoch during Tuesday’s hearing is Jonathan May-Bowles, a self-described "writer, comedian, activist and blogger" and one of the founders of the anti-tax cut activist group UK Uncut, which has denied any involvement in the attack. May-Bowles has been charged with behavior causing harassment, alarm or distress in a public place, and will appear before the City of Westminister Magistrates Court on Friday.
May-Bowles, 26, goes by the name Jonnie Marbles. Minutes before attacking Murdoch with what is thought to be shaving cream, May-Bowles tweeted “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat”—a take on the final sentence from Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Earlier, May-Bowles had tweeted that he was in the committee room.
After the attack, Jemima Kiss, a writer at The Guardian, tweeted, “It was @JonnieMarbles.”
A video May-Bowles posted of himself on YouTube has already received a number of comments mostly condemning him for the attack. May-Bowles has posted a number of videos of himself online, including footage of himself at protests and a video in which he burns his election ballot. May-Bowles is also the owner of several blogs, including "Anarch*ish*," "Please don't wipe your arse with the internet," and "The Loveable Fuckwit."
Previous Arrest: On March 26 of this year, May-Bowles was part of a group of 145 people arrested on charges of "aggravated trespass" at Fortnum & Mason, a department store in London, during a protest against Associated British Foods (owned primarily by Fortnum's parent company, Whittington Investments) for tax avoidance. After their arrest, the group started a campaign called Fortnum145 to protest what they saw as unjust "political policing."
On July 18, May-Bowles tweeted that the charges against him had been dropped, but added that 30 members of the group were still "on trial for the bullshit political charge of Agg Trespass."
UK Uncut and May-Bowles' Politics: Friends and colleagues have described May-Bowles as very "politically minded." He is a founder of UK Uncut, an anti-tax cut activist group that has "targeted groups such Barclays, Topshop and Vodafone for alleged tax avoidance with a series of sit-ins," according to The Daily Mail. He has attended a number of protests, including a rally at Copenhagen's UN Climate Change conference in 2009.
One member of the UK Uncut told The Guardian that May-Bowles was "angry about the whole Murdoch thing, how we've got a very powerful elite in this country... He works on a lot of different causes," the member said. "He's got a lot of time for people and he is sort of well respected and liked. He's not a lone figure—he's well known."
On Tuesday evening, The Guardian posted a video with footage from the three months it spent following UK Uncut, featuring an interview with May-Bowles.
People May-Bowles Knows: May-Bowles' Twitter account includes a list of people he refers to as "people I know in the real world," many of whom are also comedians and writers. Among those with active accounts, most have condemned May-Bowles' action. "I too am ashamed to know Jonnie Marbles right now," Jay Foreman wrote to Bex Lindsay, who is also on the list. "Loves you brother, but still feels you did a stupid, stupid thing," wrote David Quin, though he later deleted the tweet.
May-Bowles' 'Ex-Girlfriend': A young woman named Elise Bramich, who goes by the Twitter handle @pageantmalarkey, has claimed May-Bowles is her ex-boyfriend. "Um. Yes. Yes that was my ex-boyfriend who just custard pied Rupert Murdoch," she wrote. In subsequent tweets she wrote that she had been contacted by CNN but would not do an interview. Her account is open to confirmed followers only. According to people May-Bowles claims to know personally, Bramich has not been his girlfriend for a long time and did not break up with him because of this incident.
One previous news item about May-Bowles: In 2009, The Guardian reported that "tattletale" May-Bowles had broadcasted "his phone number (via a placard and also on Twitter)" and convinced people "to text him their secrets, which he would then read out on the plinth [in Trafalgar Square]. For an hour, Trafalgar Square reeled to a riveting succession of sad, hilarious and sexually explicit admissions, which May-Bowles delivered without moral judgment but a lot of humour. The effect was weirdly life-affirming."
Finally, a video: In 2010, May-Bowles posted this video describing the time a man attempted to steal his cell phone on the train. As the first video to appear under "Jonnie Marbles" on Google search, the post has earned quite a few comments from the public in reaction to May-Bowles' attack on Murdoch.