Man who accosted Chris Whitty in London park jailed for eight weeks

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jonathan Chew, 24, outside Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he is appearing accused of assaulting England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty in St James's Park, central London on June 27. Picture date: Tuesday January 4, 2022.
Jonathan Chew, 24, outside Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. (PA)

A man has been jailed for eight weeks after accosting Professor Chris Whitty in a London park.

Jonathan Chew, 24, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to a charge of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to England’s chief medical officer, in St James’s Park, central London, on 27 June 2021.

Chew was berated by the judge for vaping while being sentenced. He branded the £1,058 in costs and compensation "peanuts" and could be heard singing while he was led away.

Chew and Lewis Hughes, 23, filmed themselves approaching Sir Chris as he walked through the park last year.

The selfie video showed them shouting:"Oi oi” and saying “One photo please?” as they grabbed him.

Prosecutor Iestyn Morgan said that Chew started filming the medic on his phone while Hughes grabbed him in a headlock.

The selfie video showed them shouting:
The selfie video showed them shouting 'Oi oi' and saying 'One photo please?' as they grabbed Professor Sir Chris Whitty.

In the footage, shown to the court, the pair can be seen jeering as Sir Chris attempted to break free.

The court then heard how Chew gave the name and old address of his brother Aaron Chew to the police officer.

Mr Morgan said: “This did cause a waste of police resources.

He said officers attended the address on 1 July to discover a man called Harry now lived at the address.

Officers were then able to identify that Chew was the suspect after he provided comments about the incident to the Sun newspaper.

Hughes previously admitted common assault in July last year and was handed an eight-week jail term suspended for two years.

He lost his job as an estate agent after his employer saw the footage.

Chew had denied common assault and obstructing police.

Chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Tuesday January 4, 2022.
Chew plead guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to a charge of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to England’s chief medical officer. (PA)

His trial had been schedule for December 2021, but was postponed after Chew contracted COVID-19.

District judge Paul Goldspring jailed Chew for eight weeks and ordered him to pay £1,058 in costs and compensation.

Mr Goldspring said that Sir Chris has responded to “an unprecedented crisis over the last few years” with “great dignity” and “great professionalism”.

“He didn’t choose be in the public eye. He is entitled to go about his work. He is entitled to go about his daily life,” Mr Goldspring added.

“You targeted him, in the sense that you recognised him from the TV,” he said.

“Although you did not upload the video, you were complicit in sharing it.”

He also said he accepted Chew did not initially intend to be hostile and suffered from learning difficulties, mental health issues and autism.

As he was sentencing Chew, Mr Goldspring interrupted proceedings to ask him to stop vaping.

Chew also responded to the costs announcement by saying: “That’s peanuts.”

”Your contempt for these proceedings and this court have been breathtaking throughout the process,” Mr Goldspring said.

But as Chew was lead out of the dock, he began to sing “West Ham ’til I die” loudly.

Rabah Kherbane, defending, argued that Chew had learning difficulties, “intellectual difficulties” and “delayed maturity” and often becomes “frustrated” when trying to communicate with others.

Chew's mum Natasha, 49, had previously told MailOnline: “As his mother, I was not overjoyed at the way in which the boys asked for a photo, the over-exuberant nature in which they approached Mr Whitty.”

She added: “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.

Jonathan Chew covers up as he arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to England's chief medical officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, in St James's Park, central London, on June 27 last year. Picture date: Thursday January 27, 2022.
Jonathan Chew covers up as he arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he pleaded guilty. (PA)

“Realising who he was, and understanding how important he is to our country at this very moment, they wanted to get a picture with him.

“As with most celebrities and famous people, it is commonplace for the public to want a picture with them and you can clearly hear Jonathan asking for a picture with Mr Whitty.

“However, due to Jonathan’s autism, he finds it difficult to read situations and was not aware that his excitement at spotting Mr Whitty was causing any distress.

"I hope Mr Whitty is feeling more at ease now that sufficient time has passed and he can continue with his job without distractions.

“Jonathan may have misread the situation but did not intend any harm at all.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting