PM brands attack on poppy seller 'repulsive' as police investigate
14th November 2023

PM brands attack on poppy seller ‘repulsive’ as police confirm they’re investigating

  • Jim Henderson says he was ‘kicked’ and ‘punched’ after pro-Palestinian demonstrators flooded Edinburgh’s Waverley Station on Saturday 
  • Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman says he’s confident police will use ‘full force of the law’ to find attackers 

Rishi Sunak yesterday condemned the ‘repulsive’ assault on a veteran poppy seller who was caught up in a pro-Palestine rally.

As police hunt the attackers, the PM’s spokesman praised Jim Henderson and others who had made ‘huge sacrifices’

for their country after the Mail revealed the pensioner’s ordeal.

Mr Henderson, who told the Mail he had served with the Army in Northern Ireland, was ‘punched’ and ‘kicked’ while manning a poppy stall at Edinburgh’s Waverley station on Saturday. 

Social media footage shows the 78-year-old trying to escape, but the attack ended only when railway staff shoved the demonstrators away.

Rishi Sunak yesterday condemned the ‘repulsive’ assault of veteran poppy seller Jim Henderson

About 1,200 people had descended on the railway station to protest against Israeli attacks in Gaza.

The incident fuelled calls for the postponement of another pro-Palestine protest planned for London on Armistice Day.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘This was a repulsive act. 

Mr Henderson, like all our veterans, has made huge sacrifices for our country.

‘We are confident the police will treat this incident very seriously and use the full force of the law available to them.’

A spokesman for Humza Yousaf also condemned the actions of some demonstrators, despite the First Minister supporting plans to protest on Saturday. 

The spokesman said: ‘We would deprecate any action of that sort and that would be properly a matter for the police and anyone who indulges in illegality, assault; it should properly be a matter for the police and potentially prosecution.’

Protesters flooded Waverley Station last Saturday afternoon

Jim Henderson, circled, was ‘kicked’ and ‘punched’ by the demonstrators  

Speaking on LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast radio show, Westminster Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the assault on Mr Henderson had ‘sent a shudder down [his] spine, adding: ‘It’s truly, truly appalling.’

He said: ‘If something like that was happening or there was a public order incident, I would expect, I would hope and expect, the police to step in very robustly.

‘The police should be there to protect people like that.’

He added: ‘It seems to me that where there are incidents of public disorder and, by the way, the offences are there – threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour which causes harassment, alarm or distress – that is an offence and if that is taking place, whether because people are calling out jihad or whatever it is, then I would expect the police to be stepping in.’

Following his ordeal, Mr Henderson said: ‘I was getting shoved backwards, in danger of falling, and one of them stood on my foot and split my toe.

‘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 he managed to get up and was rescued by three women wearing red railway uniforms.

Mr Henderson added: ‘I’ve never known anything like it.

‘Chanting. Saying it’s all about the British Government, British people, Jews.’

The pensioner, who told the Mail he served in the Royal Corps of Signals, 32 Signal Regiment during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, insisted that he was attacked on purpose.

He said: ‘You don’t do that, and kick someone from behind, and that was when I couldn’t get out of the way. That’s when I bent down and… bang.’

Last night Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan of British Transport Police said: ‘Detectives from British Transport Police are investigating a reported assault at Edinburgh Waverley Station on Saturday, November 4.

‘We are working with ScotRail regarding the investigation.’

Former Army officer and defence commentator Stuart Crawford said the fact that a 78-year-old selling poppies was ‘beaten up by a baying mob… in Edinburgh’s main railway station just shows how far we have plummeted as a society’.

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