Man who accosted England’s chief medical officer given suspended sentence

Incident occurred in central London park in June

A man who accosted England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty in a London park pleaded guilty on Friday to assault and was ordered to pay the scientist £100 ($140).

Lewis Hughes, 24, and another man filmed themselves harassing Mr Whitty, who has become a nationally recognisable figure through appearances at televised coronavirus briefings.

One man is seen on video putting his arm around Mr Whitty as they apparently drunkenly ask him for a photograph.

The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation and officers carried out a welfare check on the chief medical officer, who did not suffer any injuries.

Prosecutor Kalsoom Shah said: “This was a completely unacceptable act of targeting and assaulting Prof Chris Whitty.

“Lewis Hughes showed little regard for him or relevant social-distancing rules when he accosted the government’s chief medical Officer in the street. His behaviour was both shocking and disgraceful.

“Like everyone else, public figures should be free to go about their day-to-day work without fear of being targeted and assaulted. The CPS will always work with the police to bring to justice those who break the law in this way.”

Hughes pleaded guilty to assault by beating during a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. He received an eight-week suspended prison sentence in addition to the fine.

The second accused, 24-year-old Jonathan Chew, pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in November.

Mr Chew also denied willfully obstructing police constable Steven Ozden on the same day.

He was granted bail and was told to appear at the same court on November 23 for trial.

Updated: July 30th 2021, 6:04 PM