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How vendor Nick Cuthbert was thrown into the heart of a protest

The Truro vendor was caught up in clashes at a Carl Benjamin rally just yards from pitch

Nick Cuthbert Truro protest

Milkshakes, kippers and clashes on the campaign trail thrust Big Issue vendor Nick Cuthbert into the media spotlight when protests arrived on his pitch in Truro.

Nick was selling the magazine outside M&S at Lemon Quay in the Cornish city near a rally for UKIP’s Carl Benjamin when opposing protesters clashed after Benjamin nearly fell foul of a flying milkshake.

The ensuing scuffle on May 10 was caught on camera and went viral on social media, showing Nick appearing to push away a protester while dressed in his Big Issue tabard.

But the 54-year-old insisted that his intervention wasn’t political and was instead an attempt to halt the violence.

“I didn’t see the milkshake being thrown but I saw an 18 or 19-year-old kid pinned to the floor and a man was kicking him in the head,” Nick told The Big Issue. “So I stepped in and pushed the man off and said, ‘You can’t do that’. I’m amazed he didn’t kill him – he had steel toe-cap boots on and the boy couldn’t do anything about it because he was stuck on the floor. It was a horrible situation.”

Benjamin, known as Sargon of Akkad in online circles, has been on a tour of the south-west of England with far-right hype man Milo Yiannopoulos as part of his European election campaign.

After kicking off in Truro, one drink struck his campaign bus in Plymouth before he was doused in Totnes while there were alleged scuffles between protesters in Exeter.

However, Nick had no interest in either the political candidate or the protest when he intervened in Truro.

“I’ve never been to any protest – it’s not something that I would ordinarily do,” he said. “It wasn’t political. Whether it was a political rally or not, I probably would have done the same, I didn’t really think about it.

“I’ve never voted so whatever the party, it doesn’t make any difference to me anyway.”

Nick and dog Bryony in Truro

But there has been plenty of support for Nick, who is not facing any police action, in the wake of the incident.

“I’m being absolutely inundated with ‘well dones’ from people,” he said. “Even people I don’t recognise have been coming up to me.

“I was inundated with free coffees the next morning from all the way through the town and people wanted to shake my hand. No one’s come up to me and said anything bad about it.”

Nick is just one of the people that The Big Issue have spoken to about protesting ahead of this week’s European elections on May 23-26. Read the thoughts of Gina Miller, Mark Millar, Peter Pomerantsev and more in this week’s Big Issue magazine, available from vendors and The Big Issue Shop now.

Read the full article in this week's Big Issue.
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