Mixed-race woman spat on during commute afraid to return to work

7 May 2020, 10:03

Jenny Pattinson was spat on during her London commute
Jenny Pattinson was spat on during her London commute. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A mixed-race businesswoman who was spat on during her commute is scared of returning to work once coronavirus lockdown measures are eased.

Jenny Pattinson, 41, from Ascot in Berkshire, said she was left shaken and angry after feeling something hit her head from above at Waterloo station on February.

The City of London worker reported the incident to police on the day, however officers later informed her they would be unable to investigate further as CCTV footage had been overwritten.

She said she now feels unsafe in public without her husband and plans to continue working from home even when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Experiencing racist behaviour or being subject to xenophobic comments are "just a day-to-day reality for Chinese people," she explained, adding, "this has made it a lot worse."

"It's escalated, it's immediately more threatening," Ms Pattinson said.

"I'm a professional woman, I'm 41 years old, I work in the City of London. I've worked hard to get to where I've got to, I was born here.

"But, yeah, I feel scared now. Even if lockdown lifts, I'm not going to be going back to work straight away because I feel quite scared without being with my husband, to be honest with you.

"And that's a feeling I have not experienced since when I used to get bullied at school, racist bullying when I was a kid, feeling that scared."

The City worker's experience is just one of a number being studied by Professor Binna Kandola who is looking into anti-Chinese sentiment since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mrs Pattinson, whose mother is Chinese and father is Scottish, said she had also noticed other commuters avoiding her on the train before the lockdown was imposed.

Her mother, who is in her 70s, was sworn at and called "filthy" on a flight in March, while her cousin, a frontline hospital worker, has also received abuse.

Asked what she thinks will happen when lockdown measures are eased, she said: "I think it'll be much worse.

"I've seen what's on social media as well, the vitriol.

"Sometimes people have commented on BBC news articles that are reporting about this virus, and just the amount of racism, the level of racism, the amount of stereotyping that's going on, is absolutely horrific.

"Just seeing those things just make me feel more concerned and more worried and more scared actually, for myself and for my family members and friends."

Mrs Pattinson said it is sad that there has been no high-level condemnation from the UK Government, especially after comments from US President Donald Trump about Covid-19 being a "Chinese virus."

She urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to speak out, adding: "I think there needs to be somebody standing up and saying, this isn't right."

British Transport Police said they received a report from the Metropolitan Police of a woman being spat on at Waterloo Station in February, in early April, by which stage CCTV footage had been automatically overwritten.

A spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately, there were no forensic or CCTV opportunities available in this case and it has been closed pending any further evidence coming to light.

"We take hate crimes of any kind incredibly seriously and will always pursue any investigative opportunities available to us.

"We would urge anyone who is a victim of hate crime, or any other offence on the railway network, to get in touch with us using our discreet text service 61016."

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