Protect our Poppy sellers: Calls to rally round elderly volunteers

Protect our Poppy sellers: Calls to rally round Britain’s army of volunteers who are too terrified to raise cash for the nation’s war heroes after they were forced to leave rail stations and targeted at shops amid tensions with pro-Palestine protesters

Brave poppy sellers must be better protected after a series of attacks as stalls ‘disappeared’ from railways stations, elderly fundraisers stayed at home and the public refrained from wearing one fearing an assault, MailOnline can reveal today.

The ongoing threat from pro-Palestine rallies and a ‘hard left rent a-Mob’ across the UK has seen some Royal British Legion volunteers left too ‘scared’ to raise money before November 11.

Conservative MP Bob Seely told MailOnline: ‘I think millions of people up and down the country will be frankly, dismayed and appalled that a hard left rent a-Mob seem to be intimidating Poppy sellers, many of whom are veterans doing their bit and taking a really important and valuable role in reminding us of the importance of Remembrance Sunday and the Remembrance weekend’.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant said: ‘Earlier this week I noticed how relatively few people are wearing poppies this year. On asking, one told me he couldn’t find a poppy seller while another said he was nervous being seen in London with one due to the demonstrations’.

A volunteer selling poppies in a Northern Ireland Tesco supermarket was filmed being verbally abused by a woman who asked repeatedly who gave her permission to sell ‘badges for murderers’. 

And earlier this week veteran Jim Henderson, 78, was punched and kicked by a mob at a pro-Palestine rally as he raised money for charity in Edinburgh.

Ahead of a huge protest in London on Armistice Day, pro-Palestine sit-ins have successfully vanquished poppy sellers from Britain’s busiest railways stations. MailOnline visited Liverpool Street and Kings Cross today and they were missing from their traditional spots.

One RBL supporter tweeted: ‘I’m genuinely too scared to wear a poppy around London this year, no one is around to protect you, defend yourself and either end up getting assault charges or beaten up’. 

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, left, joins Poppy Appeal organisers at King’s Cross last year. Right, this year, the same spot is unoccupied today but a poppy remains on the wall

Liverpool Street station in 2021 (left) and (right) today, with no poppy sellers seen by MailOnline

Last weekend, a trio of poppy sellers at Charing Cross Station in London were surrounded by pro-Palestine protesters, preventing them selling poppies

Staff at Victoria said that no sellers had been there for the first three days this week while at Euston, one worker told The Sun: ‘They used to be here for three weeks, but since Monday they have disappeared. It would be awful if they felt scared’. And when stalls were set up, at Charing Cross, protesters surrounded two women sellers, preventing the public getting to them to buy their poppies.  

Bob Seely told MailOnline: ‘I think millions of people will be extraordinarily unimpressed at the way that the pro-Palestinian groups, including members of the mainstream left and former Hamas leaders, are trying to hijack an exceptionally important weekend in our British national life.

‘I completely agree that people have the right to protest, and I agree that they have the right to be concerned about civilian casualties.

‘So am I, but there is a time and a place for this This weekend as neither the time, nor the place’.

The pro-Palestinian cause is badly damaging itself by the deliberate disrespect it is showing to veterans, and to a national weekend of remembrance. They should perhaps try behaving with the dignity veterans show.’

Trouble could be on its way after Scotland Yard’s commissioner gave the green light to a pro-Palestine rally on Armistice Day, despite fears of violent clashes with Right-wing counter-protesters.

In a thinly veiled swipe at the Home Secretary, Sir Mark Rowley said intelligence did not meet the threshold to apply for a ban under rarely used powers.

Today footage emerged of a Northern Irish Tesco shopper hits out at a poppy seller, demanding to know who gave her permission to sell ‘badges for murderers’.

The irate customer calls the store’s security on the pensioner sitting behind the stall – telling her it is ‘not acceptable’ to the Catholic community for her to be selling the Remembrance poppies.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie said the poppy selling pensioner looked ‘intimated’ in the video. 

In response to a tweet saying the irate woman was upset over ‘RUC and UDR badges’ being sold and not the poppies, he said they are ‘sold every year’ alongside the poppies to raise funds for the British Legion. 

He wrote: ‘[The badges are] Sold every year to raise funds for the poppy appeal and RBL. If you can’t see how intimidating it was for this lady then maybe you are part of the issue I raise in my original tweet.’

The irate woman hits out at the pensioner behind the stall – saying it is ‘not acceptable’ to the Catholic community for her to be selling the remembrance material

Poppy sellers have ‘disappeared’ from Britain’s busiest rail stations after a volunteer veteran was ‘punched and kicked’ at a pro-Palestine rally as he tried to fundraise. 

Volunteers will not be returning to Liverpool Street Station in London, staff confirmed after 500 people from the protest staged a sit-in at the busy train hub.

Workers at Victoria and Euston stations said no sellers had turned up since Monday, while a giant poppy at the entrance to King’s Cross station is also said to have been taken down.

Three lonesome volunteers remained at St Pancras station but one wore a bodycam, with the unnamed charity worker telling the Sun: ‘This is just part of our uniform now.’

Their disappearance comes just days after Jim Henderson, a 78-year-old poppy seller who served in the Army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, alleged to have been kicked and punched while manning a stand in Edinburgh Waverly Station. 

Poppy-seller Jim Henderson, 78, (pictured) said he was kicked and punched at Edinburgh Waverley on Saturday when a demonstration took place

Social media footage shows the 78-year-old trying to escape the huge swarm of demonstrators at Edinburgh Waverly Station 

Footage showed the volunteer in a distinctive red beret trying to escape as 1,200 demonstrators descended into the station protesting against Israel’s attacks on Gaza. 

Mr Henderson told the Mail: ‘I was getting shoved backwards, in danger of falling, and one of them stood on my foot and split my toe,’ adding ‘I got another punch in my side’.

READ MORE: Met Police WON’T ban Poppy Day pro-Palestine rally: Force Commissioner says Gaza event ‘does not meet the threshold’ to be outlawed despite fears of clashes and disruption with tens of thousands expected on London’s streets

In a separate incident over the weekend, three volunteers at a poppy stand in Charing Cross Station in London were surrounded by a gang of protesters. Photos show the brave volunteers continuing to sit in the station with a look of dismay as the demonstrators chanted around them. 

Despite the chaos seen on Saturday, sellers returned to Charing Cross and Waterloo Station which has also been a spot for the pro-Palestine rallies.

The marches, on the whole, have been peaceful with only a small majority causing violence. 

Commuters expressed their upset following the poppy sellers retreat from their regular spots in stations.  

Adam Hill, 54, from Lincoln, who was travelling through King’s Cross told the Sun yesterday: ‘I would have loved to buy a poppy here today. They used to be here for three weeks, but since Monday they have disappeared. It would be awful if they felt scared.’

Another commuter Laura Evans, 41, said: ‘It’s disgusting that it’s come to this. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in and there’s not enough police to protect everybody.’ 

A security worker added: ‘I’m not surprised. There’s been a tense atmosphere. They’ve decided to put safety first.’

MailOnline has contacted the Royal British Legion for comment.

Poppy sellers’ withdrawal has sparked fury from politicians, with the Prime Minister ‘appalled’ by the ‘intimidation and abuse’ some volunteers have experienced.

Rishi Sunak said police have his ‘full support to take action against this deplorable behaviour’ before thanking the ‘brave armed forces’ fort he work they do. 

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that a pro-Palestine rally on Armistice Day in London can go ahead, with commissioner Mark Rowley claiming he had ‘absolutely no power’ to ban the protest.

More than 70,000 people are expected to head into the capital for the march on Monday, which is due to take place hours after the Remembrance Day event at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

TODAY: Poppy sellers were noticeably absent from Liverpool Street Station today

OCTOBER 28: A sit-in pro-Palestine protest at London Liverpool Street station

Staff working at the stations claim the volunteers are scared while another volunteer said they have to wear a bodycam 

The Metropolitan Police has said it cannot do anything about the pro-Palestine protest taking place on Armistice Day 

The PM offered a stark warning last weekend that there was a ‘clear and present risk’ that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be ‘desecrated’ during the march on Armistice Day. 

READ MORE: Armistice Day under attack: Now JSO protest at the Cenotaph after poppy sellers were swamped by pro-Palestine rallies and forced to pack up and leave – as calls grow for ban on November 11 demonstrations

It led to patriotic protesters and veterans stood guarding the memorial in Whitehall while a pro-Palestinian demonstration – which had been largely peaceful – gathered a short walk away at Trafalgar Square. 

Fears were raised earlier this week that there could be violent clashes between marches and Right-wing groups. 

Groups of football hooligans are planning to join forces to ‘protect’ the Cenotaph from any protesters who veer from the official route, set to avoid Whitehall, the Mail Revealed.

One of the groups – Football Lads Against Extremism – claimed veterans have reached out and asked for support. 

It comes after EDL founder Tommy Robinson wrote ‘Saturday 11/11/11 London, your country needs you’, in one of his first posts after being allowed back on to X, formerly Twitter.

It came after Mr Sunak slammed the planned event as ‘disrespectful’ and Home Secretary Suella Braverman controversially called the rally a ‘hate march’. 

Last night Sir Mark said: ‘The laws created by Parliament are clear. There is no absolute power to ban protest, therefore there will be a protest this weekend,’ he insisted.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman doubled down on her description of the demonstrators as ‘hate marchers’ and describing their behaviour as ‘thuggish’

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall following a row 

On Saturday patriotic protesters and veterans stood guarding the memorial in Whitehall while a pro-Palestinian demonstration – which had been largely peaceful – gathered a short walk away at Trafalgar Square

‘The law provides no mechanism to ban a static gathering of people. It contains legislation which allows us to impose conditions to reduce disruption and the risk of violence, and in the most extreme cases when no other tactics can work, for marches or moving protests to be banned.’

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

The Met Police Commissioner added that the organisers of Saturday’s protest  had shown ‘complete willingness to stay away from the Cenotaph and Whitehall and have no intention of disrupting the nation’s remembrance events’.

‘Should this change, we’ve been clear we will use powers and conditions available to us to protect locations and events of national importance at all costs,’ Sir Mark said. 

Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer on terror laws, warned of a risk of ‘extreme Right-wing terrorist backlash’ if the rally went ahead, while former UKIP leader Nigel Farage accused the Met of being ‘gutless’ after failing to ban the event. 

Ever since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on October 7 – which has seen more than 1,400 killed and hundreds kidnapped – pro-Palestine groups have been holding marches throughout London.

Previous rallies have seen officers injured with fireworks, protesters holding up extremist imagery and multiple people arrested for anti-Semitic chanting.

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