A WAR of words between a Welsh MP and the Mayor of Naples, which is being dubbed the "Rolex Row", escalated last night.
Clwyd West Tory MP David Jones, 54, hit out at Italian authorities for their handling of street crime and said comments made by the Mayor of Naples - the Italian city where he and his wife were mugged - were "pathetic".
Mr Jones, a lawyer, and his nurse wife Sara, 49, had two Rolex timepieces torn from their wrists as they walked along a busy street while on holiday.
Neither Mr Jones nor his wife were injured, although both were left shocked.
The couple were targeted as they walked along Via Toledo - the equivalent of London's Oxford Street - in the centre of the southern port city.
They were visiting Naples during a week-long break on the Amalfi Coast, when they fell victim to the thieves.
As he recovered at his hotel on the island of Capri, Mr Jones heard Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino say, "I've been mugged abroad twice, in Brussels and Strasbourg. It can happen anywhere."
Mr Jones, who lives near Colwyn Bay, said, "That's a pathetic thing to say. I can't believe the Mayor of Naples would say such a thing. We were victims of a third- world crime in a first-world city.
"I know Naples and I know its reputation, but we were not walking along some dodgy side street, but along a busy street in broad daylight, when we had watches ripped off our wrists.
"You just don't expect this sort of thing to happen in a European city in the 21st century, and I wholeheartedly disagree with her attitude.
"What she said and what happened to us is a sad commentary on the state of safety in Naples - it's such a shame that the Mayor of Naples has no control over her city.
"She is obviously defending her city, but I am not at all happy with the safety aspect.
"We just spent four days in Rome and never felt nervous, whereas in Naples it was a different story all together.
"The whole thing happened just so quickly, it was all over in 20 seconds, maybe less. I tried to react but I was completely powerless.
"It's a shame that a city such as Naples is spoilt by uncontrollable crime. The mayor wants to take a look at the fact that a visitor cannot walk safely down a street wearing a decent watch."
Mrs Jones was mugged first, losing a Rolex watch encrusted with gold and diamonds worth £3,000.
Mr Jones was wearing a similar watch, valued at £2,500. He held onto his attacker's wrist and the pair ran along the street until Mr Jones stumbled against a metal bollard.
As he fell, the watch strap broke. The mugger, estimated by Mr Jones to be aged 16 to 20 years, ran to a motor scooter which had been waiting to collect him.
Socialist Mayor Iervolino was in Rome on official business yesterday, and a spokeswoman said, "The Mayor stands by what she said - she was mugged abroad twice with her daughter.
"It can happen anywhere. It's a shame Mr Jones feels this way, but we are in fact doing all we can to fight crime."
However, official crime statistics support Mr Jones's claim that Naples is not doing enough to tackle street crime.
The figures categorise muggings under "bag snatching".
In 2003, the latest year for which Italian crime statistics are available, 274 cases of bag snatching per 100,000 inhabitants were reported to the judicial authorities by police.
That was more than five times the average for Italy as a whole, which stands at 50 cases per 100,000 people.
Page 2 - Clwyd West v Naples