PM condemns shocking moment journalist forced to flee from anti-lockdown hate mob

15 June 2021, 12:21 | Updated: 15 June 2021, 20:31

The journalist was forced to run to safety after being hounded by a mob
The journalist was forced to run to safety after being hounded by a mob. Picture: Twitter

By Kate Buck

The Prime Minister has condemned a mob of anti-lockdown protesters who abused and chased a journalist covering a demonstration at Downing Street yesterday.

Footage shared on social media showed demonstrators shouting abuse in the face of Nicholas Watt near Downing Street on Monday.

Newsnight's political editor Mr Watt, who was wearing a BBC lanyard, was forced to run through the mob beyond a line of police officers as people shouted "traitor" and other slurs at him.

The footage, which has been widely circulated online, was filmed by members of an anti-lockdown and anti-media group called 'Resistance GB' who were participating in the protest.

Boris Johnson tweeted: "Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job. The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour - they are the lifeblood of our democracy."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman added at a Westminster briefing: "This footage is deeply disturbing and journalists should never face that kind of behaviour.

"The right to protest may be fundamental in our democracy but violence, threats and intimidation like this is never acceptable."

Priti Patel also condemned the scenes, writing online: “This behaviour is never acceptable.

“The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy. “

Crowds had gathered in Westminster to protest against the Government's extension of coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks.

The BBC condemned the actions of the protesters and said in a statement: "This behaviour is completely unacceptable.

"All journalists should be able to carry out their work without intimidation or impediment."

Jo Stevens, Labour's shadow culture secretary, said: "This extremely disturbing footage showing clear intimidation of a journalist while carrying out his job is absolutely unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms.

"It is shocking that a BBC lanyard makes someone a target like this."

The Metropolitan Police announced on Tuesday evening that they are interviewing a man in his 50s at a Hertfordshire Police station in connection with the incident.

A second man has been identified and is being "actively sought".