Preston train guard honoured for standing up to racist attack

Posted on - 21st June, 2017 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Crime, People, Preston News, Transport

Virgin Train manager Matt Litton with passenger Sanaa Shahid at Glasgow Central Station. Photo credit: Nick Ponty

A Virgin Trains employee, Matt Linton, has been honoured for standing up to a racist attack that happened on 29 December 2016.


Transport Times judges recognised Matt’s noble actions at the Scottish Transport Awards after he helped a customer subjected to racist abuse on the London to Glasgow service.

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Matt, who lives in Wigan with his wife and two children, intervened to stop the racial attack of mum Sanaa Shahid and her four-year-old son Zayn when passenger Alexander MacKinnon started giving them verbal abuse.

Matt stepped in to prevent any further abuse from MacKinnon, ensuring he was taken from the train and arrested at Carlisle, and then stayed with the Sanaa and Zayn to offer them comfort and reassurance.

MacKinnon later pleaded guilty to a Racially Aggravated Public Disorder offence and was fined over £1000.


Matt, who was recruited as a trainee for British Rail in 1991 and worked in numerous roles before becoming Train Manager on Virgin Trains’ Anglo Scottish Route, was praised for ‘standing up to intolerance’ when he was commended in the Frontline Employee of the Year category at the Scottish Transport Awards.

Sanaa Shahid said: “I am very pleased Matt has received the recognition he deserves.

“He was the only person in that carriage who came to our help.

“I believe he genuinely went above and beyond his call of duty when he stood up for my son and I that day by telling Alexander Mackinnon his behaviour will not be tolerated any further and arranging his swift removal from the train.

“We need more people like Matt around us, who aren’t afraid to speak up when they see injustice.”

Read more: New look Preston Station side entrance triggers reaction

Scotland’s Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP, was one of many to praise Matt along with the panel judges and British Transport Police who attended the awards ceremony.

Humza Yousaf MSP said: “Everyone in our communities has the right to live and work safely in 21st century Scotland, including when travelling on our rail network.

“Matt is a real example of how we must stand up to defend Scotland’s diversity and inclusion when faced with unacceptable hate crimes.”

David Begg, Chief Executive of Transport Times and chair of the awards judging committee, said: “The judges were very impressed with the way he stood up to intolerance.

“It is vital that we continue to recognise those who showcase the courage to eradicate racism within our industry and society as a whole.”

Patrick McGrath, Virgin Trains’ Executive Director of Human Resources, added: “Racism has no place in our society or on our transport system but these values are only as good as the people upholding them.

“Matt showed courage and compassion in dealing with a difficult situation and standing up to intolerance and we’re delighted his actions have been recognised tonight.”

Matt said: “For anyone working in the transport or customer service industry, we’re paid to be tolerant and patient.

“But there are certain situations that we can’t tolerate and we can’t accept.

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“We can’t accept racism, I wouldn’t expect to go about my life being treated like that so why should anyone else have to put up with it?”

What do you think about Matt’s brave actions? Have you visited Preston Train Station recently? Let us know in the comments below

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