Police charge second man, 24, with common assault after Chris Whitty was accosted as he walked through park in London
- Jonathan Chew, 24, charged over the incident where was Chris Whitty accosted
- Chief Medical Officer was harassed as he walked through a park in London
- Chew’s friend Lewis Hughes also charged with common assault over incident
A second man has been charged with common assault after England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty was accosted as he walked through a central London park.
Jonathan Chew, 24, of no fixed address, was charged on Monday with common assault and obstructing police and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police said.
Chew, 24, and his friend Lewis Hughes, 23, filmed themselves grabbing the Government’s top medical adviser as he walked through St James’ Park on Sunday June 27.
Hughes, who has been fired from his job at Caplen Estates Agents following the backlash will now appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 30.
Officers spoke to Prof Whitty, who did not suffer any injuries, and checked his welfare.
Footage of the incident, lasting around 20 seconds, was shared on social media.
The viral video received widespread condemnation, including from Home Secretary Priti Patel and Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who labelled the pair ‘thugs’.
Chew, who said he has ADHD and autism, previously attempted to explain his actions, saying: ‘Sometimes things seem a good idea and really they’re not.’
He added: ‘We didn’t cause any harm to him. We just wanted a selfie.’
His mother Mrs Chew, from Barking, east London, said he meant no harm by his behaviour and had simply misread the situation.
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Chew (left, and right in the video with Whitty) said he has ADHD and autism and said their interaction with Prof Whitty seemed like a good idea at the time. He also claimed the pair only wanted a selfie and meant no harm
Hughes, 23, (left, and right in the video) was fired from Caplen Estates Agents after the clip of him and friend Jonathan Chew, also 24, with the Chief Medical Officer found its way to his boss
Natasha, 49, exclusively told the MailOnline: ‘As his mother, I was not overjoyed at the way in which the boys asked for a photo, the over-exuberant nature in which they approached Mr Whitty.
‘First and foremost I would like to apologise for any distress that the incident may have caused Mr Whitty.
‘My son and his friend had been enjoying their day, having a few social drinks together when they spotted Mr Whitty.
‘Realising who he was, and understanding how important he is to our country at this very moment, they wanted to get a picture with him.
‘As with most celebrities and famous people, it is commonplace for the public to want a picture with them and you can clearly hear Jonathan asking for a picture with Mr Whitty.
‘However, due to Jonathan’s autism, he finds it difficult to read situations and was not aware that his excitement at spotting Mr Whitty was causing any distress. I hope Mr Whitty is feeling more at ease now that sufficient time has passed and he can continue with his job without distractions. ‘
She added: ‘Jonathan may have misread the situation but did not intend any harm at all.
‘Hopefully now the prime minister and all of the MPs, who have taken time out of their busy schedules to comment on and discuss the situation, can return to more important issues, instead of focussing on a none political or Covid issue, this was a request for a photograph.’
Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty is seen walking past the Department of Health and Social Care in London
Hughes will now appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 30 after he was charged with common assault
She also hit out at the headline coverage the incident has received, saying: ‘This incident was witnessed by armed police who chose to have a conversation with the boys and Mr Whitty and move the boys on.
‘It has taken centre-stage across all of the main UK news broadcasters at a time in which several more significant stories have come out involving mishandlings by members of our government.
‘Jonathan wishes to apologise for any distress this incident has caused Mr Whitty, we hope he can move on from this incident as we also wish to.’
Hughes, who has been fired from his job at Caplen Estates Agents following the backlash, has since tried to explain his actions, saying they were ‘not malicious’.
Hughes, the son of a car sales businessman, from Romford, Essex, told The Sun: ‘If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that.
‘To be honest I just wanted a selfie with Chris Whitty to show my mum. There was no malicious intent, I didn’t want to upset him.’
Hughes (pictured), from Romford, Essex, said he ‘absolutely apologises’ for causing upset, but said if Prof Whitty had told him to get off, he would have
Hughes (pictured) said he had been drinking prior to accosting Prof Whitty
Hughes has been sacked from his job working for the estate agency firm Caplen Estates in Essex (pictured: The firm’s office in Buckhurst Hil)
Hughes also revealed how he and his friend Chew had been drinking during an anti-vax march in London prior to the incident.
The condemnation quickly started after the video, showing the two men accosting Professor Whitty in St James’ Park, emerged online.
It is not clear where the video was first posted, but one of the earliest appearances was on the social media pages of anti-vax group ‘We Are One’.
The group later posted a statement in saying it did ‘not condone bullying’, before accusing Professor Whitty and the Government of ‘lies and propaganda’.
In a chilling message, the group added that Professor Whitty was ‘lucky’ that it was ‘just two lads having a laugh’ before finishing with ‘F*** Whitty and his pals’.
Boris Johnson slammed the ‘despicable harassment’ and said public servants ‘should not have to face this kind of intimidation’.
Priti Patel said she was ‘horrified’ by the ‘appalling’ attack – the third time the Chief Medical Officer has been accosted in just four months.
The Home Secretary said it was important Prof Whitty got the support he needed but refused to reveal if he will now get greater levels of protection.
Yet a firm of private security experts told MailOnline he should have police protection, ‘certainly with the recent history of incidents towards him’.
They added someone that high profile is ‘at risk of being targeted by many groups, such as the anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, or those that have lost their jobs, friends, or family members due to Covid-19’.
Sunday’s incident is the second time Prof Whitty has been attacked this month after a man harassed him in the street in Oxford and accused him of lying about coronavirus.
He was also rounded on by a young thug in February, who uploaded his video to TikTok and was later scolded by his mother.
On Saturday, Prof Whitty was branded a ‘traitor’ and a ‘murderer’ by lockdown sceptics who gathered outside his home a day before he was put in the headlock.
A huge crowd marched on the Chief Medical Officer’s flat in central London.
They stood on the road – where flats sell for up to £12.5million – and some drank beer as they branded Prof Whitty a ‘murderer’ and ‘traitor’ for his work during the pandemic.
They hurled the insults at the top epidemiologist’s home through megaphones and clasping their hands around their mouths. It is not clear if Prof Whitty was at home.
Joel Smalley, who said he attended the ‘freedom rally’, tweeted: ‘Most of those appalled by the activity throw insults at those conducting it like they are all ignorant and brainwashed by ”conspiracy theories”.’
He added: ‘Kind of ironic given that the marchers have probably done more research! I know, I was there.’
While the demonstrators shouted their bile at Prof Whitty’s home, thousands of others were taking part in an anti-lockdown rally outside Downing Street.
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