Man charged with ‘common assault’ of top UK medical officer


LONDON — Police in London said a man charged with common assault after England’s chief medical officer was harassed in a park in central London will appear in court on Friday.

The Metropolitan Police said Lewis Hughes, 23, was charged on Thursday evening.

An investigation was launched after Prof. Chris Whitty, one of the most high-profile scientists during the coronavirus pandemic, was accosted by two men in St. James’s Park on Sunday evening.

The incident, which was captured in video footage and shared on social media, showed Whitty struggling to get away from the pair, who appeared to be manhandling him while trying to take a selfie.

The incident was widely condemned, including by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who described the pair as “thugs.”

It is not the first time Whitty has been forced to endure public harassment during the pandemic.

Whitty has had a leading role in devising lockdown restrictions and has regularly appeared alongside Johnson and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, in coronavirus-related press briefings.

While he has undoubtedly become one of the most trusted voices, he has faced the fury of lockdown skeptics.

Last month, he was confronted in a street in Oxford by a man accusing him of lying to the public about the virus, while in February a man accosted him near Parliament. Both incidents were filmed on mobile phones.

Worries about his security has led to calls for Whitty, and others, to receive police protection.

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