Man, 23, charged with assault after Chris Whitty accosted in middle of park

Video was shared of the incident (Image: PA)

A man has been charged with common assault after England’s chief medical officer was accosted in a central London park.

Lewis Hughes, 23, was charged last night after the incident involving Professor Chris Whitty in St James' Park on the evening of Sunday, June 27.

He was charged by postal requisition and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday July 30.

A statement by the Metropolitan Police said: "At approximately 19:20hrs on Sunday, 27 June officers in St James’s Park became aware of a man being accosted by a group of men.

"They spoke to the victim and checked his welfare. He had not suffered any injuries.

"Officers subsequently reviewed video footage which emerged after the incident and the matter was referred to the Public Order Crime Team.

Calls were mounted for Prof Whitty to be given better protection

"Enquiries continue."

Chris Whitty, who has become one of the most prominent officials across Britain during the coronavirus pandemic, was shown in footage published on social media on Tuesday being grabbed by two jeering, grinning men.

It prompted wide condemnation, including from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and calls for the police to take action.

After the incident, Mr Johnson tweeted: "I'm shocked at seeing the despicable harassment of Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty."

The incident prompted wide condemnation
(Image: PA)

He continued: "Our hard-working public servants should not have to face this kind of intimidation on our streets and we will not tolerate it."

Mr Johnson's spokesman told journalists: “It’s completely unacceptable for a hard working public servant like the Chief Medical Officer and people who are working to save lives in the pandemic to face intimidation, harassment and abuse.

"This is a matter for the police and you’ll have seen they are investigating.

“We keep security under constant review but I’m not going to be commenting on specific arrangements for individuals.”

As calls mounted for him to be given police protection, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The police are actually involved as well and we're also speaking to Chris to look at what we can do to support him."

Asked directly if Prof Whitty could be given police protection, Ms Patel told Times Radio: "I can’t speak about that, but it's important that we make sure that Chris is, you know, given the right kind of support.

"It is terrible to see such an important public figure, someone that day in day out has been serving our country in the way in which he has to keep us safe being subject to just appalling abuse."

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