Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has been accosted four times in recent months, including by anti-lockdown protestors, raising worries about his safety.
Following the recent events over the weekend, Whitty was targeted in a Westminster park on Sunday, a day after protestors gathered outside what they assumed was his home and yelled “murderer.”
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said he was “shocked” to see the “despicable harassment.” At the same time, Priti Patel, the home secretary, condemned the “awful” behavior directed at a “great public servant” who is one of the most senior government officials dealing with the Covid problem. The abuse was also described as “appalling and completely unacceptable” by Sajid Javid, the incoming health secretary.
Whitty is reported to have dismissed the park incident as “schoolboy behavior” and that he would not have notified anybody if the video hadn’t already gone viral. He has not responded publicly but reported to be unwilling to pursue the subject further. The Metropolitan Police stated that officers talked with Whitty after the park incident and inquired about his well-being, but he declined to make any accusations and continued on his way.
“Officers continued to talk with the two males and documented their details,” the force said in a statement. They were strongly cautioned about their actions and told to leave the area.”
However, the vaccinations minister, Nadhim Zahawi, has demanded that the “thugs” to be charged.
The incident was captured on video, with two persons shooting in selfie mode and attempting to manhandle Whitty as he tried to flee.
The scientific adviser ducked his head beneath the arm of one of the men who were clutching him. As he attempted to leave, a guy can be heard asking, “Just one photo, please,” and another adding, “One one, mate.”
The men then drew him back towards them, wrapping their arms around him as he tried to flee once more.
On Saturday, a crowd gathered outside what they mistook was Whitty’s central London home, blaring horns and yelling from across the street.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen urged for Whitty to be given police protection, saying that politicians, not advisers, should “front the people.”
Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Jim McMahon, supported the proposal, adding he was shocked Whitty had been traveling from building to building alone.
“He is a very senior government servant, and he has been a quite public-facing,” McMahon said on Sky News. “We know people who are anti-vaccination, who don’t think the pandemic is legitimate… and they direct a lot of their rage towards Chris Whitty.”
Patel expressed her “horror” at what had occurred to Chris, telling Times Radio, “The police are also engaged, and we’re communicating with Chris to see what we can do to help him.”
She proposed that he be given police protection. When questioned if he required it, Patel responded, “It’s critical that we make sure Chris gets the appropriate type of assistance.” It is horrible to see such a significant public person — someone who has been serving our nation in the way that he has to keep us safe day in and day out – subjected to such heinous abuse.”
Whitty was followed down a street by a renowned anti-vaccine activist who shouted at him and called him a “liar” the previous weekend.
He was branded a “liar” many times in February while waiting for a takeaway meal at a street food stand, causing outrage when the video surfaced.
Whitty’s deputy, Jonathan Van-Tam, was approached in the street outside the Ministry of Defence building last week by an anti-vaccine protester who accused him of poisoning Matt Hancock.
The activist can be seen chasing him and shouting at him in video footage published on Facebook. Downing Street denounced the abuse as “appalling behavior.”
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