James O'Brien reacts to harassment of Chris Whitty, as police investigate

29 June 2021, 10:50 | Updated: 29 June 2021, 11:07

James O'Brien responds to Whitty's harassment

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien reacts to the harassment of Professor Chris Whitty, dissecting the possible reasons it happened.

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".

A personal tragedy befell Profesor Whitty as a teenager; his father Kenneth Whitty was murdered by terrorists on the streets of Greece. With this in mind, some commentators have indicated that this could have made the incident significantly more traumatic.

James reflected on whether this incident was similar to the harassment of Nick Watt, a journalist who was abused and chased by a mob of anti-lockdown protestors outside Downing Street earlier this month.

CMO Chris Whitty harassed by two men in the street

James said, "I don't think the two events are identical, because I don't think the yobs who harassed Whitty were doing so for political or ideological or opinion-based reasons.

"There's a voice at the end which says leave the gentleman alone, and it has been suggested that it might have been a police officer, it has also been reported that it's believed to be a passerby."

James continued that he has had some experience of people harassing him in the street while "sticking a phone in his face", but concluded that that is not what happened to Chris Whitty.

This, intimated, may be closer to an example of people "boisterously trying to get a selfie or give you a bit of a bearhug, which is fine if you're in a pub garden and the football's on, but it's not fine if you're in your suit and you're walking through St James's Park on the way back from a tough shift at work."

James reflected that he did not think this incident is a consequence of columnists calling him "Doctor Doom": "I don't think their ludicrous misinformation and attention-seeking with regard to so called lockdown skepticism, or anti-vaccine, or even anti-lockdown, I don't think that is part of this picture."

"It looked to me like two or three...very intoxicated individuals who saw someone off the telly, one of the most recognisable faces in Britain at the moment...they got very very excited."

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."

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."

More James O'Brien

See more More James O'Brien

Shahd Waleed is trying to leave Rafah with her parents and enter Egypt

'They want us to experience pain': Young woman trapped in Rafah with her parents tells of terror as Israel invasion looms

Sir Keir Starmer has defended comments he made about Margaret Thatcher earlier this month.

Starmer defends Thatcher comments as he says he ‘completely disagrees’ with former prime minister’s politics

A caller to James O’Brien’s programme has shared footage of the extraordinary destruction done to his newly purchased property just outside of Durham.

Property investor's shock at 'unexplainable level of damage' he discovered after buying new home

James Cleverly replaced Suella Braverman as home secretary on Monday

'I've spent more time with James Cleverly this week than with Suella Braverman in the last year', Sadiq Khan tells LBC

James O'Brien discusses Suella Braverman's 'destructionist' leadership style with a caller

'She's a destructionist': James O'Brien caller claims Suella Braverman governs like 'a five-year-old'

James O'Brien

'She definitely has something on him': Caller and James O'Brien debate why the PM hasn't sacked Suella Braverman yet

'A complete reset of the top' is needed says caller.

'We're being let down': There is a 'complete disconnection' between parliamentary and local Conservatives says caller

James O'Brien

'It's essential that people are able to protest peacefully against war', says James O'Brien

James O'Brien

Rishi Sunak 'almost physically moves away' from Suella Braverman in House of Commons debate, says James O'Brien

James O'Brien

'Suella Braverman succeeded - she's caused hate', claims caller after Home Secretary criticises pro-Palestine marches

'A fish rots from the head': James O'Brien caller reacts to claims of misogyny in Downing Street during Covid Inquiry

'A fish rots from the head': James O'Brien caller reacts to claims of misogyny in Downing Street during Covid Inquiry

'Ludicrous, bogus, nonsense': James O'Brien is astounded by Boris Johnson 'laughing at Italy' during the pandemic

'Ludicrous, bogus, nonsense': James O'Brien is astounded by Boris Johnson 'laughing at Italy' during the pandemic

James O'Brien on Dagestan

'It's a hatred as old as religion itself': James O'Brien analyses escalating anti-Semitism after Muslim crowd storms Dagestan airport

Carol Vorderman shocked about UK Poverty

'One million children are living in destitution': Carol Vorderman struggles to comprehend stark wealth inequality in the UK

Wes Streeting on dentistry

Wes Streeting invites the government to steal Labour's policy to solve 'dickensian' NHS dentist crisis

James O'Brien

'I think they're the loneliest voters in Britain', James O'Brien claims after Tories' double by-election defeat

JOB and caller Andy

Biden's visit to Israel is to show that the US stands 'unequivocally' with Israel says James O'Brien caller

JOB and Usman

Israel's current response will only 'strengthen' Hamas by rearing Gazans who seek revenge warns this James O'Brien caller

JOB on deaths in conflict

James O'Brien unpacks the 'controversial' feeling of being 'equally devastated' by Palestinian and Israeli deaths

JOB on starmer speech

Keir Starmer is using 'working class as the opposite of having a sense of entitlement', notes James O'Brien

JOB on HS2 promises

James O'Brien criticises Rishi Sunak's watering down of 'illustrative' Network North projects funded by HS2 cut

Sadiq Khan and James O'Brien

Sadiq Khan declares there is 'no place for anti-Semitism' in London as kosher restaurant in Golders Green attacked

James O'Brien on the challenge HS2 scrappage poses to Labour.

‘How much can Rishi Sunak knock down before Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister?, asks James O’Brien

James O'Brien

Rishi Sunak is like an 'incontinent cat': James O'Brien slams Tories ahead of PM's Party Conference speech

JoB and Jeremy Hunt

Navy veteran deeply hurt by Jeremy Hunt's plans to clamp down on benefit claimants

James O'Brien on Tory tactics in the upcoming election.

Tories desperately seeking wedge issues is the 'only way' they will retain power in 2024, says James O'Brien

James and caller Mervin on knife crime

'I'd prefer you to go to jail than die': James O'Brien is left aghast by this caller's father's stance on knife possession

James O'Brien

James O'Brien ridicules those prioritising Labour's private school VAT plans over the cost of living crisis

James O'Brien

'I mean this is a novel': James O'Brien hears why this caller blames Labour for HS2 problems

James O'Brien

James O'Brien takes aim at uninformed 'idiots' criticising Keir Starmer for not wanting to diverge from EU rules

JOB on Rishi Sunak Bins

Rishi 'seven-bin' Sunak is lifting bans that 'don't exist', asserts James O'Brien


Rishi Sunak's weakening of Net Zero policies is his 'stupidest intervention' to date, asserts James O'Brien