Army veteran told to stop selling poppies over 'risk assessment'
An army veteran in full military garb, Jean Reno, was told to stop selling poppies at a Portsmouth shopping centre because he would not undergo a "risk assessment".
Mr Reno, who fought in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, was selling the poppies at Gunwharf Quays, in Portsmouth, Hants, when he was stopped by a security guard.
The 36 year-old was asked if he had permission to sell the plastic flowers.
When he refused to fill in a permission slip, which included a risk assessment, the guard asked him to leave the premises.
Mr Reno, from Southsea, Hants, raised more than £1,500 by selling poppies at the same venue last year. But this year he managed just £250 before being told to leave.
Mr Reno said: "I didn't require a risk assessment when I was sent to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Afghanistan, or Iraq. But I require one to stand on Gunwharf Quays property to sell poppies. I'm utterly disgusted."
The former soldier with artillery regiment 19/5 Battery left the army in 2007 after suffering serious brain injuries in a road accident in 2005.
On his discharge from the forces he was helped into a new flat by service charities, and has been collecting since 2008 out of gratitude.
He added: "I started working for the first time last year and spent a week at Gunwharf. I had little interference or hindrance from the on-site security and raised over 1,500 pounds.
"But this year I had only been there for an hour when the man came up to me and said, 'have you got permission to be here?'
"I don't normally make a habit of leaving my house wearing my regimental blazer with medals on my chest, a box full of poppies and a collection tin, so I thought it was obvious that I had permission.
"I said I had but he said there was already one gentleman selling poppies, and because he had done the risk assessment he was the only one allowed to sell in Gunwharf Quays."
Peter Emery, Gunwharf Quays centre director, said: "Unfortunately Mr Reno fell foul of our own system to prevent bogus charity sellers. We were given a list from the Royal British Legion of the people who would be collecting for them this year.
"But Mr Reno was not on it. We approached him to try and make him official and get him on the list but he took offence. It is regrettable that it came to this but Mr Reno has now signed the form and we are happy to have him back selling poppies on the site. We fully support the Poppy Appeal." Source