Pair face court over anti-lockdown protest video

Two anti-lockdown protesters deny public order offence after BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt was called ‘traitor’ and chased by mob near Downing Street

  • BBC journalist Nicholas Watt was chased by anti-lockdown protesters in London 
  • Disturbing footage showed journalist being called ‘traitor’, ‘scum’ and ‘a liar’ 
  • Joseph Olswang, 38, and Alexander Peat, 34 denied breaching public order act 
  • They are accused of threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour towards Mr Watt
  • The pair denied the charge when facing Westminster Magistrates’ Court today 

Two men have denied breaching the public order act after BBC journalist Nicholas Watt was chased by protesters near Downing Street during an anti-lockdown protest.

Joseph Olswang, 38, and Alexander Peat, 34, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress on June 14.

Olswang, wearing a blue shirt and spectacles and Peat, wearing a coat and a black t-shirt, confirmed their names, dates of birth, addresses and their not guilty pleas while standing in the dock.

Magistrates released Peat on unconditional bail to appear for trial on November 29 while Olswang is due to appear in the same court again later on Thursday.

Crowds had gathered in Westminster to protest against the Government’s extension of coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks.

In the disturbing footage, a baying mob surrounded Mr Watt as they shouted abuse and called him a ‘traitor’, a ‘liar’ and ‘scum’. 

Joseph Olswang, 38, (left) and Alexander Peat, 34 denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour against Mr Watt at Westminster Magistrates’ Court

Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt ran behind a line of police near Downing Street, as large-scale protests against the Government’s extension to lockdown rules turned ugly

Shocking footage shows a baying mob surrounding the journalist as they shout abuse, calling him a ‘traitor’ and a ‘c***’

Video clips shared widely across social media showed demonstrators confronting Mr Watt near Richmond Terrace and Whitehall in June. 

Mr Watt, who was wearing a BBC lanyard, was forced to run through the crowd beyond a line of police officers as people shouted at him.

Christopher Aitken, 62, from Brixton, and Martin Hockridge, 57, are also due to stand trial in November charged with the same offence.

They were both released on bail until the trial date.

Journalists took to Twitter to condemn the abuse, including BBC Newsnight editor Esme Wren, who said in a post on Twitter: ‘Harassing and intimidating any journalist is completely unacceptable. 

‘All journalists should be able to do their work without impediment or risking their safety.’ 

Hundreds of journalists took to Twitter to condemn the abuse of Mr Watt at an anti-lockdown protest in June

BBC newsdesk duty editor Neil Henderson today tweeted the video with a comment, saying: ‘A BBC Correspondent doing his job in Whitehall yesterday. Where does this end?

Fellow BBC journalist Allie Hodgkins-Brown also shared the video, writing on Twitter: ‘This is awful. In Central London 2021. Disagree with us fine. Switch us off fine but no journalist deserves this.’ 

The Met Police said it had begun an immediate investigation into the alleged inaction of its officers, after they were reportedly spotted watching the chaotic scenes unfold. 

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘It is clear that the incident began on Whitehall where officers were present. 

‘After reviewing the full footage, we are issuing the revised statement which also includes an update on the investigation.

‘We are aware of a video that has been shared online which shows a journalist being aggressively confronted and chased by a group of protestors in the vicinity of Whitehall on Monday, 14 June.

‘The behaviour shown in the video is unacceptable. 

‘Members of the public, of any profession, have the right to go about their day without being subjected to verbal harassment or actions that put them in fear for their safety.’

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