Campaigners say that rail bosses refused to leave their offices today to accept an 8,000-name petition raised by supporters of sacked Hampshire railman Ian Faletto.

New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne accused South West Trains of showing "extraordinary discourtesy" to ten people who had travelled from Lymington to the company's offices in London.

The delegation was headed by Mr Swayne and the Rev Alex Russell, of St Mark's Church, Pennington.

Mr Swayne said: "Ten of us got up at the crack of dawn and travelled to Blackfriars - paying South West Trains good money for the privilege - to hand in the petition.

"We announced our arrival at the front desk and then waited outside.

"A security guard told the Rev Russell that only one person could go inside but I felt someone senior should come out and accept the petition from all of us.

"Then the building manager, who is not even an employee of South West Trains, came out and said there was an agreement with my office that only I should present the petition.

"But I'm not aware of any such agreement.

"Eventually, I asked the Rev Russell to present the petition to me and will present it to Parliament. The fact that no-one senior from South West Trains was prepared to come out and collect the petition reflects very poorly on the company.

"I believe they have behaved with extraordinary discourtesy to the travelling public."

But South West Trains hit back at the criticism.

A spokesman said: "We are puzzled and disappointed by the attempts today to create confrontation and we are particularly upset by the behaviour directed at building staff not employed by our company.

"We had an agreement with the Rev Russell that a member of her party would be given access to our offices to hand over their materials, yet when the group arrived this morning this offer was turned down.

"We also contacted the office of Desmond Swayne yesterday to give him an opportunity to follow-up his recent phone conversation with our managing director with a private-face-to-face meeting. However, this offer was declined by his office."

"We can understand the feelings and interest in this case in view of what people have read and heard. Today's events, which were clearly a deliberate publicity stunt, do not change the facts of the case.

"It would be entirely wrong for any disciplinary decision to be influenced by external parties or factors. Our internal consideration of the case is closed and we will not be carrying out any further review of the matter.

"However, we remain ready to ensure the full facts concerning what was a serious breach of safety are made public at an Employment Tribunal if required."

Mr Faletto claims he was sacked for removing a shopping trolley from the track at Lymington station, where he was ticket office clerk.