TFL 'urgently investigating' claim woman refused entry to bus over pro-Palestine badge

Woman says she was left 'in disbelief' after she claims the driver shook his head at her and drove away

Lucy Nichols said she wasn't allowed to get on a London bus because of her badge supporting Palestine.
Lucy Nichols said she wasn't allowed to get on a London bus because of her badge supporting Palestine. (Credit: Lucy Nichols)

Transport for London (TFL) has said it is "urgently investigating" after a woman claimed she was denied entry to a bus because she was wearing a pro-Palestine badge.

Lucy Nichols, 24, from Redbridge, said she was left "in disbelief" after an encounter on Wednesday morning that saw a bus driver in South Woodford refuse to open the doors of the bus, gesturing to her badge before driving off.

She told Yahoo News: "He was shaking his head at me. I thought oh maybe the bus was full but it wasn’t. It was about 8:30, there were people doing the school run so I thought maybe it could be full.

"He was motioning at his chest and circling his hand around, making it very obvious that it was where my badge was situated.

"Wagging his finger at me and then drove off, didn't open the door at all. In addition to making me 20 minutes late for work, he made this 80-year-old man late for church which was quite sad really. I was really shocked, very angry, sort of in disbelief as well."

A TfL spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that Lucy was refused entry to the bus and we are urgently looking into this report, alongside the operator Stagecoach, to find out what happened.”

Yahoo News understands that refusing entry to someone for wearing this badge is not in line with TfL policy.

Nichols said she has been wearing pro-Palestine badges for years, and this was the first time she had experienced a negative reaction.

She said: "I went to visit Salisbury cathedral last week and kind of expected some pushback because I know people who have been turned away from art galleries and museums for wearing Palestine badges or keffiyehs [black and white traditional headdress often worn in solidarity with Palestine], but the girl at the cathedral actually said she liked the badge.

"I live in East London, and you see a lot of pro-Palestine graffiti and people wearing pro-Palestine badges, so I didn't expect this reaction at all, even slightly further towards Essex."

Since the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine's escalated following the 7 October Hamas attack and subsequent Israeli bombing of Gaza, pro-Palestine supporters have held weekly protests and shown their support by wearing badges like Nichols' and by flying the Palestinian flag.

The heightened tensions have also seen a rise in Islamophobic attacks and antisemitism. Figures released in February 2024 from the Islamophobia Response Unit found that there has been a 'sustained increase' in anti-Muslim hatred, with their data showing a 365% increase in October.

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