Monday, February 26

Lewis Hughes admits assault on Professor Chris Whitty in St James’s Park

An estate agent has admitted assaulting England’s Chief Medical Officer in a video which went viral online.

Lewis Hughes, 24, pleaded guilty to assault at Westminster Magistrates’ Court after England’s Professor Chris Whitty was accosted in St James’s Park in central London on June 27.

He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £100 in compensation. Earlier in June, he was confronted in a street in Oxford by a man accusing him of lying to the public about coronavirus, while in February a man accosted him in Westminster.

Kalsoom Shah, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said Hughes showed little regard for Prof Whitty or social distancing rules when he accosted the Government’s Chief Medical Officer in the street. His behaviour was both shocking and disgraceful.

A second man, Jonathan Chew, 24, from Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded not guilty to the same charge. Chew, who wore a navy hoodie for the appearance, also denied wilfully obstructing police constable Steven Ozden on the same day. He was granted bail and was asked to appear at the same court on November 23 for a trial.

The video, which lasts around 20 seconds and was filmed in St James’s Park, appears to show two grinning men grabbing Prof Whitty as they shout Oi oi and say One photo please?

As Prof Whitty attempts to walk away, the men grab him again, while a voice is heard saying leave the gentleman alone before the clip ends. It is not the first time Prof Whitty, who has taken a central role in decision making and communications in the Government’s response to the pandemic, has faced public harassment.