Thieves don’t represent the true spirit of Portsmouth

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

CLIVE SMITH: English pigs? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

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There is so much that is good happening in Portsmouth. A lot of effort goes into promoting the city and projecting the right image, while its people demonstrate every day how kind and generous they can be.

Yet the danger is all that positivity risks being undermined by the experiences of army veteran Mark Newton when he paid Portsmouth a visit.

The 48-year-old, who is travelling around the coast of Britain on a mobility scooter to raise money for military charities, had stopped outside the Tesco store in Crasswell Street with a collection bucket.

It was something he’d done successfully all over the country since beginning his journey in his native Wales just over a year ago. More than 7,000 miles travelled without incident.

Only this time there was a very different and distasteful outcome.

On page seven today, we tell how Mr Newton fell victim to thieves who stole money he had raised for SSAFA, the RNLI, Royal British Legion, Help For Heroes and his regiment, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards.

A disillusioned Mr Newton said: ‘I’m not sure how much was taken, but all the notes have gone. It makes me so sad that people would steal from someone collecting for charity.’

He’d never been targeted before and was so badly affected by the theft that he left the city and continued his journey.

We are very sorry that he had such a bad experience when he came to Portsmouth. And we are angry that those who took the money have created such a negative view of our city. To steal charity cash is about as low as it gets.

They should be examining their consciences (if they have any) and anybody who knows anything about the theft must come forward and tell the police.

Those responsible need to be caught – and Mr Newton should be left in no doubt that their callous actions in no way represent the true spirit of our city.

Then perhaps the city council should think about inviting him back to see that for himself.