Police have charged a second man over the video of England’s chief medical officer being hounded and grabbed in a London park.
Jonathan Chew, 24, was at an anti-vax march in the capital earlier in the day when he and his friend spotted Chris Whitty on Sunday, June 27.
They recorded themselves accosting the scientist in St James’s Park – demanding a selfie with him – appearing to put him in a headlock as he tries to break free.
Chew was charged yesterday with common assault and obstructing police and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today.
Last week his friend Lewis Hughes, 23, from Romford, Essex, was charged with Common assault, after revealing he had been sacked from his job as an estate agent over the incident.
Apologising for the attack, 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 says he ‘just wanted a selfie’ to show his mum and said there was ‘no malicious intent’, admitting having a few drinks with his friend before the incident.
Chew’s mum has apologised on behalf of her son and said he finds it hard to read situations because he is autistic and has ADHD.
Natasha, 49, said: ‘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.’
The video of the incident quickly spread across social media and was widely condemned, with Boris Johnson branding the pair as ‘despicable thugs’.
It isn’t the first time Professor Whitty, or other Covid scientists, have been hounded while out in public, fuelling calls for them to be provided with police protection.
Responding to the attack on Twitter, the Prime Minister said: ‘Our hard-working public servants should not have to face this kind of intimidation on our streets and we will not tolerate it.’
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: ‘This is disgusting and these thugs must be found and charged. Zero tolerance for harassing a public servant.’
Labour MP Jess Phillips said Professor Whitty had been made to feel ‘awful and uncomfortable’ and issued a reminder that public figures ‘are human beings’.
She tweeted: ‘Even if you perceive it as non violent it is clear that he felt awful and uncomfortable and resisted.
‘Public figures are not dolls, they are human beings, it is stunning how easily this is forgotten.’
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