Retired train driver Jim Walker was banned form winding up the iconic Brief Encounter clock
Retired train driver Jim Walker, 71, helped track down and reinstall the iconic clock at Carnforth train station, in Lancs, 13 years ago.
Since then he has been responsible for winding it daily.
The clock was made famous when director David Lean used it in his 1945 wartime romance movie about Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson’s short-lived affair.
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But when a station visitor overheard Mr Walker’s private chat about reports of Syrian men posing as child refugees to enter the UK he reported him for alleged racist behaviour.
Mr Walker, who was not spoken to over the claims, was sent a solicitor’s letter banning him from parts of the station.
He said: “I’ve no regrets. I’d say it all over again because we must all stand up for free speech.
“It’s democracy to have the right to speak your mind. If anything, they should be apologising to me. I’ve been tried and convicted of racism in my absence – where’s the justice? People around here are all for me.
The clock is famously known from the film, Brief Encounter
“I’ve had them stop me in the street and say they’re shocked at the way I’ve been treated.
I’ve been tried and convicted of racism in my absence – where’s the justice?
“People in this country used to speak their mind. Now they’re all too frightened to – just in case someone overhears and reports them.”
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Mr Walker had been discussing a newspaper story about the controversial issue of how many child migrants coming to Britain look like they are adults.
He told fellow volunteers he agreed with media commentators claims the Syrian teenagers bore no similarity to the genuine Jewish child refugees sheltered by Britain during the Second World War.
Mr Walker was reported after someone overheard his private conversation about Syrian refugees
But his remarks were overheard by a male visitor and a fortnight later – unaware an investigation by the Carnforth Station Trust had secretly been launched and concluded – he was sent a legal letter banning him from the station and the clock has gone unwound.
Despite no one hearing from Mr Walker, the letter said: “It is clear the visitor’s version of events was a true picture of what went on.”
It cited “loud offensive remarks” which used “infl ammatory and highly abusive” language.
Peter Crowther, chairman of the Carnforth Station Trust, said: “A visitor complained about insulting and racist comments. He said that if action wasn’t taken he would report the matter as a hate crime to the police.”
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The pensioner was sent a letter from a solicitor, banning him from parts of the station
The ban on him covers certain historic areas of the station that are operated by the Trust, meaning he can still approach platforms run by Network Rail.
Mr Crowther added: “Mr Walker has been given the right to go into the station to get the tools to maintain the clock and is not doing it.”
But Mr Walker denies he still has access to the equipment needed to wind the clock up, thanks to the ban. And he says he feels too humiliated to step foot inside the station ever again.
Mr Walker says he feels humiliated by the ban
Speaking from his terraced home he shares with wife Betty, 68, he defiantly told us: “Where has the right to free speech gone? I was talking to a friend discussing a newspaper article. I didn’t say anything offensive.
“No wonder people nowadays are scared to say what they think. They are scared of being labelled racist.
“My view is that it’s good to talk, whatever’s on your mind. After all, as long as we’re speaking, we’re not fighting.”
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