Second man charged after journalist chased by anti-lockdown protesters

22 June 2021, 18:55

The incident took place near Downing Street
The incident took place near Downing Street. Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

A second man has been charged after a journalist was chased and shouted at by anti-lockdown protesters near Downing Street.

Christopher Aitken, 62, from Brixton, was arrested on Monday and charged the following day with an offence contrary to Section 4A of the Public Order Act.

He was bailed and will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday 22 July.

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It comes after footage from last Monday was shared widely on social media which showed demonstrators confronting BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt near Richmond Terrace and Whitehall.

Mr Watt was forced to run from the mob, seeking safety behind police officers stationed near No 10 as people shouted "traitor" and other slurs at him.

A protest against the Government's four-week extension of coronavirus restrictions in England was taking place in Westminster at the time.

The actions of those who harassed Mr Watt have been condemned, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling the treatment of the journalist "disgraceful".

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the safety of journalists is "fundamental to our democracy".

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

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

Police have also charged another man Martin Hockridge, 57, of Harpenden, with the same Section 4A offence and he is expected to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 29 June.

The Met says 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.