Man charged after reporter hounded at anti-lockdown protest


LONDON — London police have charged a 57-year-old man with abusive behavior after a journalist was harassed and chased by anti-lockdown protesters.

The Metropolitan Police force said Wednesday that Martin Hockridge was accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior with the intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress. He is due to appear in court on June 29 for an initial hearing.

Hockridge was arrested after footage shared on social media showed demonstrators protesting a delay to the easing of coronavirus restrictions in England shouting abuse in the face of Nicholas Watt, political editor of the BBC program “Newsnight.”

Watt was called “traitor” and chased from the scene.

Police officers at Monday’s protest did not step in. The force said it would be “reviewing our actions with a view to improving the policing of events.”

The incident is the latest example of abuse directed at journalists by protesters who believe the media is giving a distorted view of the pandemic.

It was criticized by politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who tweeted: “Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job. The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour – they are the lifeblood of our democracy.”

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