British army veteran poppy seller 'punched' amid huge Palestine protests in train station

7 November 2023, 00:21

Jim Henderson says he was punched by protesters
Jim Henderson says he was punched by protesters. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

A poppy seller has said he was punched as he left Edinburgh Waverley station over the weekend as pro-Palestine protesters staged a huge sit-in.

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Jim Henderson, 78, was selling poppies in the station when he decided to leave because of the large crowds.

Mr Henderson, who served with the army in Northern Ireland, said he was attacked while leaving.

"I was getting shoved backwards, in danger of falling, and one of them stood on my foot and split my toe," he told Mail Online. "So I thought I had got to get the money out of here.

"So I went down, and as I bent down someone punched me in the back.

"And then I got another punch in my side."

He said that three members of railway staff shoved the attackers away.

Mr Henderson added: "I’ve never known anything like it. Chanting. Saying it’s all about the British government."

Jim Henderson in 2020
Jim Henderson in 2020. Picture: Getty

The protesters say they decided to stage a sit-in at the station after police 'blocked' their protest route.

A growing number of protests have been taking place in train stations in the UK, including in London Liverpool Street, which was forced to close on Tuesday due to a large demonstration.

Protesters in Edinburgh Waverley on Saturday
Protesters in Edinburgh Waverley on Saturday. Picture: Alamy

It comes after the Scottish Poppy Appeal said that a separate elderly volunteer was forced to leave the same station, with the help of train staff.

She left after being surrounded by protesters displaying 'Freedom for Palestine' posters, with hundreds of demonstrators on the concourse.

Birmingham New Street station was also targeted by a huge protest last week.

And over the weekend, poppy sellers at Charing Cross station looked helpless as they were surrounded by protesters chanting 'Free Palestine'.

The picture of the London volunteers went viral online, with Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer slamming the protesters for 'intimidating' the elderly trio.

A trio of poppy volunteers were surrounded by pro-Palestine protesters at Charing Cross statino
A trio of poppy volunteers were surrounded by pro-Palestine protesters at Charing Cross statino. Picture: Getty

"If anyone knows these poppy sellers please DM me. I will try and rattle a tin with them tomorrow," Mr Mercer said.

"The saddest thing my generation of Veterans ever say to me is that they struggle to recognise the Country they wore the uniform for."

Read More: Met 'won't bow to political pressure' over pro-Palestine Armistice Day protest, ex top cop says, amid calls to cancel

Read More: Pro-Palestine protesters who vandalise Cenotaph 'must be jailed faster than feet can touch the ground', warns Braverman

"This is not it. We mustn't allow it to become like this," he said.

"London is a big City; there are plenty of areas to protest - the right for which Servicemen and women are proud to serve - without appearing to try and intimidate ordinary citizens trying to collect a bit of cash for Poppy Day - a non-political symbol."

A spokesperson for the Poppy Legion has since confirmed that the trio of volunteers are well and will continuing to sell poppies.

"The collectors would like to thank people for their support but are keen to say they were absolutely fine during the protest at the station on Saturday, they would prefer not to have any further attention, and are happily back out collecting."

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