The Royal British Legion last night condemned the abuse and assaults suffered by poppy sellers in Bradford this year – the first it has ever recorded.

The incidents included: l A 13-year-old female Army Cadet suffering a young thug spitting in her face; l Two Asian girl cadets getting verbal abuse for selling poppies due to the colour of their skins; l Two other sellers being set upon in the city centre; l A gang threatening other selllers for their collecting tins.

Bradford Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal organiser Barbara Allsopp said she deplored the incidents.

She said: “The cadets are trying to help servicemen and women that have not just served in other conflicts but are serving today, and getting killed and maimed for life – these cadets are collecting for them and I think it is downright disgusting.

“They should hang their heads in shame, it is terrible.

“The cadets have never had this sort of problem before. I feel sorry for them, it’s not right.”

Superintendent Owen West, of Bradford South Police, warned such behaviour would not be tolerated by his officers. He said: “Those who work to distribute poppies should not expect to be confronted with violence, intimidation or abuse.

“It will not be tolerated in our city and anyone found to have targeted sellers in this way will be robustly dealt with by both the police and the courts.”