A man being hunted by police over an acid attack that injured 20 people in a London nightclub is believed to have fled the country.

Arthur Collins, the 25-year-old boyfriend of ITV This Morning presenter Ferne McCann, is being sought by detectives after acid was sprayed at the Mangle club in east London in the early hours of Easter Monday.

They have arrested a second man and are seeking a third.

Police told victims they have received a tip off that Collins fled to either Spain or Ireland after the attack, which left a 22-year-old woman blind in one eye.


Yesterday a 21-year-old girl who suffered permanent scarring from the attack told of her 'indescribable pain' and the sense of panic when the acidic liquid was sprayed following a dance floor fracas.

Sophie Hall, who went to the nightclub to celebrate her best friend's 22nd birthday, suffered third degree burns to her face and shoulder.

She told the Daily Mail: 'It was about 1 o'clock and we were about to leave the club. I heard a hissing noise and smoke started to fill the room.

'After the smoke went off the liquid hit us. It wasn't just a small amount of acid - it kept coming for about 30 seconds. There was a sense of complete panic, people were screaming.

'The pain is indescribable - it feels like your skin is eating itself. The police told us later it was drain fluid.'

Following the attack, Miss Hall was taken to a specialist burns hospital in Essex along with a friend, who suffered burns to her foot, neck and stomach.

They shared a ward with other victims of the attack, including two men aged 24 and 29 who were severely burned and remain in hospital.

Miss Hall said: 'The two boys were in so much pain. One of them has told he will be blind in one eye.

'They were black but their faces had turned white. Their pigment had completely gone.'
The victims and were sent messages of support in hospital from Katie Piper - the television presenter who was blinded in one eye in an acid attack in 2008.

Miss Hall, who is now recovering at her family home in Poole, said: 'I've been told the burn to my shoulder will be permanently scared forever but my face should be okay eventually.
'I'm angry that this is going to be the way I look. I didn't walk into the club looking like this.

'You never expect to go to a club for the night out and leave disfigured. The people responsible should never be let out of prison.

'We have spoken to the police investigating this and they told us they have received a tip off Arthur Collins fled to Spain or Ireland.'

Her friend, who wants to remain anonymous, criticised the length of time it took emergency services and the nightclub to respond to the attack, which occurred at a house music event called LoveJuice.

She said: 'The attack happened at 1am but we were not admitted to hospital until half three.

'Initially about twelve of us ran to a room upstairs where we were just left to pour water over ourselves.

'People were in so much pain and we needed paramedics but it took an hour and a a half for them to arrive.'

She added: 'We were left in our clothes that were covered in acid but we should have been stripped straight away. Clubs should have a protocol in place for how to deal with such attacks.

Miss Hall also criticised the club's lax security, claiming her bags and ID were not checked when entering the club.

'A group of six of us went in and they didn't ID us or check our bags. People could have walked in there with a knife, drugs or anything.

'Someone was allowed to walk in there carrying acid and as a result people's lives have been permanently changed.'

Last night, Scotland Yard said it is working around the clock to pursue a 'number of leads', which are believed to include information Collins fled abroad.

Detective Inspector Lee McCullough, of Hackney CID, said officers are also hunting the two men seen with him at the trendy Mangle club in East London.

He warned Collins is potentially dangerous and said anyone suspected of helping him evade the authorities also faces arrest.

'My team is acting on a number of leads to bring in those wanted for questioning in relation to this awful incident,' he said.

'I am continuing to appeal to Arthur Collins and the two men who were seen with him to hand themselves in so that we can talk to them about the incident in the nightclub.

'I would also urge anyone who knows of his whereabouts to contact police.

'Equally, anyone found harbouring those wanted for questioning by police can expect a knock at the door and could well find themselves under arrest.'

A 21-year-old was held in North London yesterday on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. Detectives are hunting Collins and a third man seen with him at Mangle.