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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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.’
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.