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Polish man told to 'leave this country' in hate attack outside his Leeds shop

Published 01/07/2016

The incident is alleged to have occurred at Bramley Shopping Centre in Leeds
The incident is alleged to have occurred at Bramley Shopping Centre in Leeds

A Polish shopkeeper collapsed after being told to "leave this country" in an attack his wife believes is linked to the Brexit vote.

Marek Petzold, 47, was taken to hospital after he was verbally abused outside his shop in Bramley Shopping Centre, Leeds, on Tuesday morning.

Two people have been arrested as part of the police investigation into the racially-aggravated public order offence.

Wioletta Petzold, 46, has told of her fear when her husband, who has a pre-existing heart condition, collapsed following the abuse.

She said: "It was a big shock. He was outside the shop when some people shouted at him 'leave this country' and 'go to your own country' and some swearing, that I don't want to repeat, and things like 'why are you still here?'.

"When he came back into the shop, he lost consciousness and I was scared about him because he was in a bad condition with his heart. He stopped breathing and I called an ambulance. He went to the hospital and everything is alright with him now, everything is okay."

Mrs Petzold said she believes the attack was linked to the EU referendum result. She said she and her husband, who run the Koala Delicatessen, have always been made to feel welcome in the UK and have many English customers.

She said: "I think some people maybe they think wrong about the referendum, that Polish and Slovakian and Hungarian people must leave this country."

The shop worker said they have received messages of support from across the country.

She said: "After this we have felt a lot of support from Bramley. A lot of people came to the shop and said they were sorry for the people, they brought us a lot of flowers, a lot of cards with the words 'sorry about this', we even got some cards from London. They said 'we are friends with you', that's really polite, really kind.

"Before this, we were made to feel very welcome, I didn't even imagine that something like this could happen."

West Yorkshire Police said a 53-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman were arrested on Friday morning at an address in Armley, Leeds.

Chief Superintendent Paul Money said: "We treat all reports of hate incidents very seriously and want victims to come forward with confidence, either directly to the police or through our partner agencies, and be fully reassured that their complaints will receive the appropriate response.

"We are very conscious of the increased focus on incidents of this nature at this time and hope that people will be reassured to see that we have acted promptly to progress this investigation.

"Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team will be continuing to provide additional reassurance in the area and we will continue to respond appropriately to any other reports we may receive from anywhere else in the district."

Incidents can be reported at, which also contains links to partner organisations.

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