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Matt Hancock feared 'being pushed down escalator' during confrontation with anti-vaxxer
8 June 2023, 18:27
Matt Hancock felt "very intimated" and was nearly "shoved down an escalator" on the London Underground by an anti-vaccination protester.
The former Health Secretary told a court he was harassed by Geza Tarjanyi, 63, during two incidents in January, when he was pursued on his walk towards Parliament and as he took a London Underground train.
Giving evidence, Mr Hancock said he had just finished breakfast in Downing Street with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on January 24 when he was pursued by Tarjanyi.
He said he recognised the man from an incident five days earlier, when he says Tarjanyi “shoulder-barged” him while “persistently” shouting questions and accusations.
Videos were played to the court, showing Tarjanyi in the first incident accusing Mr Hancock of “murdering” people as the MP walked down the street.
After Mr Hancock enters the Parliamentary estate, Tarjanyi can be heard calling him a “murdering scumbag” and suggesting he and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been “murdering people withe vaccines”.
Mr Hancock said both incidents left him feeling intimidated and in fear, and he accused Tarjanyi of “shoving” him during the second incident as they went into Westminster tube station.“I’m trying to get on to the escalator, to get away from him, and he was now having a go at the person who had come to my aid”, he said.
He said Tarjanyi had accused him of “murdering millions of people”, repeated a conspiracy theory and allegedly shouted at him repeatedly before they reached the station.
The MP said: “The man pushed into me, and I felt myself being pushed towards the top of the escalator.
“Obviously I was extremely worried at this time. If I had lost my balance at that point, I would have tumbled down the escalator. It’s a long escalator, I could see a long escalator moving away from me, and I was being pushed from behind.
“I had to work to maintain my balance and stop myself falling down the escalator.”
Tarjanyi is accused of haranguing Mr Hancock during the short Tube ride to Bond Street, when the MP was accompanied by a Transport for London worker to safety.
“He carried on shouting at me and members of the public, it was quite a packed train, and members of the public on the train tried to pursuade him to desist”, said Mr Hancock.“I felt intimidated.”
He said Tarjanyi was heard saying “I’ve been arrested 16 times and I want to go to court”, and Mr Hancock told the court: “This made me alarmed.
“If you have been to court before, you would be prepared to commit a crime in order to get there. That obviously made me feel unsafe.”
Parveen Mansoor, defending, said Tarjanyi denies any physical contact and believes it was Mr Hancock who “barged into him”.
She added: “He denies assaulting him in any way shape or form.”
Ms Mansoor suggested Mr Hancock had not been pushed during the incidents, arguing the defendant merely walked into him after he stopped.
“Oh please”, replied Mr Hancock. “The idea that it was my fault he walked into me is ridiculous.”
Ms Mansoor went on: “You exaggerated what happened on both of these occasions either to get sympathy or to stop Mr Tarjanyi saying what he wished to say.”
The MP told the court: “I wouldn’t make such an accusation lightly, and I certainly wouldn’t if it was untrue.”
Tarjanyi, 62, of Leyland in Lancashire is accused of shouting 'ridiculous conspiracy theories' on two separate occasions. He is charged with common assault and a public order offence for a clash on January 24, as well as a second public order offence for an earlier confrontation on January 19.
He says there was no deliberate physical contact, he accuses Mr Hancock of barging into him, and he denies his behaviour amounted to harassment.
The trial has been adjourned until July 4.