PM condemns 'despicable harassment' of Chris Whitty as police investigate incident

29 June 2021, 09:21 | Updated: 29 June 2021, 10:02

Chris Whitty was filmed apparently being harassed by two men
Chris Whitty was filmed apparently being harassed by two men. Picture: PA/Screengrab

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson said he is "shocked" at the "despicable harassment" of Professor Chris Whitty after police announced they were investigating a video showing him being grabbed by two men.

The 20 second clip shows two grinning men follow England's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) as they shout "oi oi" and "one photo please".

They continue as Prof Whitty tries to walk away during the incident at St James's Park in London, while a voice can also be heard saying "leave the gentleman alone".

The Prime Minister said the professor "should not have to face this kind of intimidation".

The Metropolitan Police confirmed they are investigating the incident, tweeting: "We are aware of a video being shared online showing an incident in St James's Park. Officers spoke to all those involved at the time and their details were taken.

"We are in contact with the victim and the circumstances continue to be investigated."

MPs have condemned the footage and there have been calls for key Government advisers to be given police protection.

New health secretary Sajid Javid said: "I've seen the video of the CMO being harassed.

"It's appalling and totally unacceptable. The CMO works tirelessly on behalf of the country.

"We will not tolerate this sort of behaviour towards our public servants. The men behaving in this disgraceful way should be ashamed."

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: "Even if you perceive it as non violent it is clear that he felt awful and uncomfortable and resisted.

Read more: Professor Chris Whitty responds after being harangued by Covidiot in the street

"Public figures are not dolls, they are human beings, it is stunning how easily this is forgotten."

Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal said: "I know that if he was the statue of someone with a dubious past, he would have a dozen strong security detail.

"This is just the latest incident of harassment involving the Chief Medical Advisor."

Another video earlier this year drew widespread attention when a "young lad" was seen verbally haranguing Prof Whitty.

Earlier in June, he was filmed being confronted in a street in Oxford by a man who accused him of lying about coronavirus.