Second man, 62, arrested after journalist chased at anti-lockdown protest

21 June 2021, 23:33

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
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A second man has been arrested after a journalist was chased and abused at an anti-lockdown protest in Whitehall last Monday.

The Metropolitan Police said a 62-year-old man was taken into custody on Monday 21 June and remains with officers.

He was arrested on suspicion of an offence contrary to Section 4A of the Public Order Act, which includes using threatening, abusive or insulting words, behaviour or disorderly behaviour towards someone else.

It comes after footage shared on social media at the start of last week showed Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt being confronted and pursued by demonstrators near Downing Street.

The journalist was forced to run through the gathering crowd and behind a line of police officers as some of the mob yelled "traitor" and other insults at him.

Protesters had gathered near Richmond Terrace and Whitehall to demonstrate against the government's decision to extend coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks.

Read more: PM condemns moment journalist forced to flee from anti-lockdown mob

Read more: Man, 57, charged after journalist confronted at anti-lockdown protest

A line of police at the anti-lockdown protest at Downing Street on Monday
A line of police at the anti-lockdown protest at Downing Street on Monday. Picture: PA

The Met previously said that 57-year-old Martin Hockridge had been charged in connection with the incident.

Hockridge, of Harpenden, Hertfordshire, is accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards another person with the intention to cause them harassment, alarm or distress.

He was also charged under Section 4A of the Public Order Act and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 29 June.

The treatment of Mr Watt was widely condemned by figures such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel as "disgraceful" and "appalling".

"Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job," the PM tweeted.

"The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour - they are the lifeblood of our democracy."

Meanwhile, Ms Patel branded the incident "appalling and distressing" and said the safety of journalists is "fundamental to our democracy".

After the footage was shared, the BBC said in a statement: "This behaviour is completely unacceptable.

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

The Met say enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing, and anyone with information should call 101 or tweet @MetCC. Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111.