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Professor Chris Whitty responds after being harangued by Covidiot in the street
3 February 2021, 08:36 | Updated: 3 February 2021, 17:58
The "young lad" who verbally abused Professor Chris Whitty in the street when calling him a "liar" will hopefully "become a model citizen in due course", the chief medical officer for England has said.
Responding to a question about the Covidiot heckler during the Downing Street coronavirus press conference on Wednesday, Prof Whitty told reporters he "didn't think anything of it".
"The odd young lad showing off occasionally happens," the CMO said.
"I don't think anything of it, frankly. I was very surprised it was picked up by the media at all. I'm sure he'll become a model citizen in due course and much more like Captain Tom."
His comments came after footage emerged of the professor waiting in line at a Westminster's Strutton Ground market on his lunch break when he was confronted by the unknown individual.
Despite the UK death toll from Covid-19 passing 100,000 and tens of thousands still remaining in hospital, the youth repeatedly called Mr Whitty a "liar".
The person filming the confrontation can be heard saying: "Oi big man, what you saying? You’re a liar, you’re a liar. You lie about the Covid-19 cases, man. Come on man, stop lying to the TV, man."
Mr Whitty, 54, did not react to the taunts and simply walks away and puts on a mask until he is left alone.
The Department of Health has since launched an investigation into the incident.
It is not clear when the video was taken.
Reacting to the appalling footage, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the individual who did that was "not even worth commenting on"
"I don't think anybody should be treating any of our scientists in that way," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari.
"Chris Whitty is one of the most renowned and respected scientists in the world. His advice both to Government and to all of the population has been thoughtful and smart all the way through. He's got the big calls right.
"This man is not even worth commenting on."
The footage - originally uploaded onto TikTok - was shared on Twitter by Tory MP Matt Vickers.
He said: "This is appalling, I really can’t believe this footage. Covidiot harasses Chris Whitty while he's out getting lunch.
"Chris Whitty is doing all he can to help guide us through this crisis and should never be subjected to this abuse."
In a statement, the MP later added: "The chief medical officer is working day in and day out to help guide our nation through this unprecedented crisis and I think all of us, no matter your political affiliation can agree the man is doing his absolute best.
"As the clouds of this pandemic continue to part, I think those like Prof Chris Whitty will be seen as heroes who stepped up, did their job and led us through the darkest of hours.
"As for the young man in the video, the less said the better.
"Perhaps he should be made to volunteer on a Covid ward. Perhaps then he will feel a pinch of shame and embarrassment for his dangerous conspiracies and yobbish behaviour."
Mr Whitty has become a familiar during the pandemic, as he regularly fronts the Downing Street briefings alongside the Prime Minister and other politicians.
Despite being appointed as CMO in 2018, he has continued to work as a doctor, and worked shifts in hospitals over Christmas to give other medics a break.