British veteran poppy seller ‘punched’ during pro-Palestine protests at train station

Jim Henderson paying tribute at Edinburgh's Princess Street Gardens on November 4, 2020 (Getty Images)
Jim Henderson paying tribute at Edinburgh's Princess Street Gardens on November 4, 2020 (Getty Images)

A British Army veteran said he was punched when pro-Palestine protesters staged a sit-in at the train station where he was selling Armistice Day poppies.

Jim Henderson, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, was stationed at Edinburgh's Waverley Station when around 1,200 people joined a demonstration there on Saturday.

The 78-year-old told MailOnline he was attacked while trying to leave.

He 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 only managed to get away when railway staff shoved some of the protesters away.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “Detectives from British Transport Police are investigating a reported assault at Edinburgh Waverley Station on Saturday 4 November.“The incident occurred at approximately 3.30pm during a demonstration at the station.

"Detectives have been investigating the incident since it was reported to police on 4 November. We are working with ScotRail regarding the investigation.”

Crowds gathered in London’s Charing Cross and Oxford Circus to show their support for Palestine and call for a ceasefire.

Thousands also marched on Trafalgar Square.

Scotland Yard said a total of 29 people were arrested for inciting racial hatred, other racially motivated crimes, violence and assaulting a police officer over the course of the protests.

Images showed poppy sellers at Charing Cross surrounded by demonstrators.

Pro-Palestine groups are currently under growing pressure to backtrack on a protest planned for central London this weekend.

The Metropolitan Police has asked the organisers, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), to postpone the march – because of what Scotland Yard said was a growing “risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups”.

The PSC has so far refused the request, but it has pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph and focus of Armistice Day is located.

Several government ministers have thrown their support behind the Met’s appeal, most recently including Justice Secretary Alex Chalk who said even those who intend to protest peacefully would be in danger of giving support to extremists at what was an “extremely important time in our calendar”.

The PSC has responded to the Met with a statement stressing that officers had agreed protests which have already taken place have been largely peaceful.

The activists blamed “political pressure being placed on police by the Government and right-wing political groups” but said the police “have a responsibility withstand that pressure and act to uphold democratic freedoms, including the right to protest”.

Mr Chalk said on Tuesday: “The police … have to weigh up a number of competing considerations, the right to protest, but also concerns about public safety… [and] have been very clear that having weighed all that up their strong request is that these marches don’t take place and we support the police in that.

“We want the recommendation of the police to be followed. We think that it’s wise advice, we think it takes account of all the competing consideration and that it should be followed.

“There is no doubt there are elements on these marches that I’m afraid are espousing hate.”