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 chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty was accosted in St James’s Park in central London on June 27.
He will be sentenced later on Friday.
Kalsoom Shah, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said Lewis 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.
At the time, Hughes apologised to the top medic for “any upset I caused” after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson called him a “thug”.
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.
Hughes, a 24-year-old estate agent, said he had lost his job following the incident, telling The Sun: “I absolutely apologise for any upset I caused.
“If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that.
“He is quite a timid, shy person and I think that is why he didn’t say, ‘Get off me’. If he had said that and I had realised how he felt, I wouldn’t have put my arm round him.”
He said he had been hoping to get a selfie with Prof Whitty to show to his mother, adding: “There was no malicious intent, I didn’t want to upset him.”
Hughes added that he felt “very let down” by the Prime Minister’s comments, saying: “For him to call me a thug…I actually voted for him as well.”
His friend Mr Chew told the newspaper he didn’t think the pair had done anything wrong, adding: “We just saw him and thought, ‘That’s the guy from the TV. He’s famous.”
“We didn’t cause any harm to him. We just wanted a selfie.”
The friends had been at an anti-vaccination march in London before seeing the Chief Medical Officer for England.
He had been at an anti-vaccination march in London before seeing the Chief Medical Officer for England.
The Metropolitan Police said the force was still investigating the incident, which was condemned by the Prime Minister and other politicians.
“I’m shocked at seeing the despicable harassment of chief medical officer Chris Whitty,” Mr Johnson said.
“I condemn the behaviour of these thugs. Our hard-working public servants should not have to face this kind of intimidation on our streets and we will not tolerate it.”
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 been faced public harassment.
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 the chief medical officer outside Westminster.