Man, 57, charged after BBC journalist abused and chased by anti-lockdown protesters

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·Freelance Writer
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Nicholas Watt was filmed being confronted by protesters in Whitehall.
Nicholas Watt was filmed being confronted by protesters in Whitehall.

Police have charged a 57-year-old man after footage emerged showing a BBC journalist being confronted and chased by anti-lockdown protesters.

Martin Hockridge is charged with an offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act, namely using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards another person with the intention to cause them harassment, alarm or distress, the Metropolitan Police said.

Crowds gathered in Westminster on Monday to protest against the government’s extension of coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks, and footage on social media showed demonstrators shouting abuse in the face of Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt.

Watch: Prime minister condemns lockdown protesters who abused and chased BBC journalist

Watt, who was wearing a BBC lanyard, was forced to run through a mob beyond a line of police officers as people shouted “traitor” and other slurs at him near Downing Street.

Hockridge, of Harpenden, Hertfordshire, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June.

Boris Johnson condemned the “disgraceful” footage after it quickly spread across social media.

The prime minister 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.”

Home secretary Priti Patel Patel tweeted: “The video of @BBCNewsnight’s Nick Watt being abused by a mob is appalling and distressing.

“This behaviour is never acceptable.”

She added: “The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy."

The BBC said in a statement: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable.

“All journalists should be able to carry out their work without intimidation or impediment.”

BBC journalist Allie Hodgkins-Brown tweeted: “This is awful. In Central London 2021. Disagree with us fine. Switch us off fine but no journalist deserves this.”

More to follow...

Watch: Lockdown restrictions: What is changing?

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