Police investigating after video of Professor Chris Whitty being harassed by men is shared online
A video appearing to show England’s chief medical officer being harassed by two men in a park has been condemned as “appalling and totally unacceptable” by the Health Secretary.
Sajid Javid said such behaviour will not be tolerated and that those responsible for acting in this way towards Professor Chris Whitty “should be ashamed”.
The Metropolitan Police are investigating after the footage, lasting around 20 seconds and apparently taken in St James’s Park in central London, was shared online.
It shows two grinning men grabbing Prof Whitty, apparently filmed by a third man, as they shout “Oi oi” and say “One photo please?”
As Prof Whitty attempts to walk away, the men grab him again.
With a line of police vans visible in the background, a voice is heard saying “Leave the gentleman alone” before the clip ends.
Mr Javid tweeted: “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.”
The Met tweeted: “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.”
A number of other MPs were swift to condemn those involved and some figures are calling for police protection for key scientific advisers during the pandemic.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “This is disgusting and these thugs must be found and charged. Zero tolerance for harassing a public servant.”
Labour MP Jess Phillips said Prof Whitty had been made to feel “awful and uncomfortable” and issued a reminder that public figures “are human beings”.
Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal called for protection for Prof Whitty and other scientists advising the Government over pandemic-fighting measures.
It is not the first time Prof Whitty has been forced to endure public harassment.
Earlier this month, 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 the chief medical officer outside Westminster.
The incidents were filmed on mobile phones.