Costa Coffee customer stopped from buying food for homeless man

A Costa Coffee customer who was not allowed to buy food for a homeless man has branded the incident a "disgrace".

Adrian Pinsent tried to buy a sandwich and a soft drink at the coffee shop chain in London's Waterloo station but was refused by a member of staff.

In a video of the incident, the barista said Costa could be prosecuted by station security and the police if it sold food for a homeless person.

But it has since emerged that neither Network Rail, which manages Waterloo station, or British Transport Police have such a policy in place.

Mr Pinsent, a TV cameraman from Walton-on-Thames, told the Press Association: "It was an utter disgrace.

"I asked (the homeless man) to pick what he wanted, a sarnie and a Pepsi, and when I tried to pay for it, they refused.

"This argument went on for some time before I filmed the video.

"I was amazed. As a cameraman and journalist myself, I know that the idea of Costa being prosecuted by either the police or station security as the barista says is utterly wrong."

In the footage, posted on Twitter and Facebook, the barista says: "I'm really sorry, Sir. I cannot."

Mr Pinsent, 40, says "this is unbelievable", before leaving a £10 note on the counter and taking the food anyway.

A spokeswoman for Costa said: "We do not have a policy that restricts customers purchasing food for anyone who is homeless.

"We believe the store was given misinformation, which has now been corrected."

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We do not have a policy against passengers buying food in our stations and giving the food to anyone who is homeless.

"We will be asking our retailers to remind their staff of this, so we can avoid any incidents such as this in the future."

British Transport Police said "of course" they would not prosecute anyone for buying food for a homeless person.

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