The mum of one of the men filmed manhandling Chris Whitty in a London park said he ‘misread the situation’ as she apologised for his actions.
A video of Jonathan Chew and his friend Lewis Hughes, both 24, grabbing the top medical adviser and trying to force him into a selfie as he attempted to wriggle free received widespread condemnation.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel labelled the pair ‘thugs’ after footage of the incident went viral, sparking calls to ramp up Whitty’s security.
Yesterday it emerged that Hughes, 24, had been sacked from his job as an Essex estate agent in the aftermath of the incident.
Now Chew’s mum has joined in on the criticism, admitting she was ‘not overjoyed’ at the ‘over-exuberant’ way her son approached Prof Whitty.
Natasha, 49, said her son has ADHD and is autistic, so finds it hard to read situations.
She told Mailonline: ‘First and foremost I would like to apologise for any distress that the incident may have caused Mr Whitty.
‘My son and his friend had been enjoying their day, having a few social drinks together when they spotted Mr Whitty.
‘Realising who he was, and understanding how important he is to our country at this very moment, they wanted to get a picture with him.
‘As with most celebrities and famous people, it is commonplace for the public to want a picture with them and you can clearly hear Jonathan asking for a picture with Mr Whitty.
‘However, due to Jonathan’s autism, he finds it difficult to read situations and was not aware that his excitement at spotting Mr Whitty was causing any distress. I hope Mr Whitty is feeling more at ease now that sufficient time has passed and he can continue with his job without distractions.’
Ms Chews, from Barking, added that her son ‘did not intend to cause harm’.
She also hit out at the headline coverage the incident has received, saying the incident was witnessed by armed police ‘who chose to have a conversation with the boys and Mr Whitty and move the boys on’.
‘It has taken centre-stage across all of the main UK news broadcasters at a time in which several more significant stories have come out involving mishandlings by members of our government,’ she said.
She also offered an apology from her son, saying: ‘Jonathan wishes to apologise for any distress this incident has caused Mr Whitty, we hope he can move on from this incident as we also wish to.’
Hughes also apologised yesterday as he revealed he had ‘paid the price’, having been sacked from his job.
He said he’d had a few drinks at an anti-vax march with Chew when they ran into Prof Whitty at around 3pm on Sunday in St James’ Park.
He said: ‘If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that.
‘He is quite a timid, shy person and I think that is why he didn’t say, “Get off me”. If he had said that and I had realised how he felt, I wouldn’t have put my arm round him.’
The boxing enthusiast, from Romford Essex, said he ‘just wanted a selfie’ to show his mum and said there was ‘no malicious intent’.
He said he felt ‘let down’ by Mr Johnson, who he had voted for, after being branded a ‘despicable thug’.
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