One of the men accused of assaulting England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, in a confrontation in a central London park has appeared in court today.
Jonathan Chew, 24, has been charged with common assault and obstructing police during a run-in with Britain’s most prominent scientist in St James’s Park on Sunday, June 27.
Appearing in the dock at Westminster magistrates court, Chew’s case was today adjourned until July 30 to be joined with a co-defendant, Lewis Hughes, 23, who has been charged with common assault.
The charges came after footage of the incident went viral on social media.
In the 20 second clip, two smiling men are seen grabbing Mr Whitty as they shout “Oi oi” and say “One photo please?”.
As Mr Whitty attempts to walk away, the men grab him again, while a voice is heard saying “leave the gentleman alone” before the clip ends.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those to hit out after the video was posted online.
Mr Johnson said: “I’m shocked at seeing the despicable harassment of chief medical officer Chris Whitty.”
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi also condemned the video.
“This is disgusting and these thugs must be found and charged. Zero tolerance for harassing a public servant,” he said.
Prosecutor Luke Staton told the court today the CPS is conducting a high-level review of the case, to determine if the two defendants should face a different charge.
“The Crown is now considering the appropriateness of the assault charge, and whether there may be a different charge which more accurately reflects the alleged assault”, he said.
“It is a review of the status of the complainant, Professor Whitty, and whether he can be said to have been acting as an emergency worker at the time of the incident.”
In an interview with MailOnline, Mr Chew’s mother, Natasha, apologised on behalf of her son.
She said “First and foremost I would like to apologise for any distress that the incident may have caused Mr Whitty.
“My son and his friend had been enjoying their day, having a few social drinks together when they spotted Mr Whitty.