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Jonathan Chew: Man jailed for eight weeks for accosting Sir Chris Whitty

·3-min read
Jonathan Chew: Man jailed for eight weeks for accosting Sir Chris Whitty

A man who accosted England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty in a central London park has been jailed for eight weeks.

Jonathan Chew, 24, was with his friend Lewis Hughes when they came across Britain’s top scientist in St James’s Park on June 27 last year.

Footage of the incident - shot by Chew on his mobile phone - went viral, showing the two men surrounding Sir Chris as they shout “oi oi” and say “one photo please?”.

Estate agent Hughes has already admitted assault over the incident, having put Sir Chris in a headlock, and was handed a suspended prison sentence.

Jonathan Chew at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday (PA)
Jonathan Chew at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday (PA)

At Westminster magistrates court on Thursday, Chew pleaded guilty to a public order offence of causing harassment, alarm, and distress, as well as obstructing a PC in the same incident.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring sentenced him to eight weeks in prison, saying the incident and uploading of the video had “intimidated and humiliated” the top scientist.

“He didn’t choose to be in the public eye, and is entitled to go about his daily life without fear of the likes of you”, said the judge.

“You recognised him from the TV, that’s why you approached him. Although you didn’t upload the video, you were complicit by sharing it, and you intended to humiliation.”

Chew pulled a few stretches before starting to vape in the dock as the eight-week prison sentence was imposed, prompting the incredulous judge to stop and ask: “Are you smoking?”

The judge said Chew’s remorse was not genuine, telling him: “Your contempt for these proceedings and the court have been breaktaking throughout.”

Chew was ordered to pay £930 in costs - a sum he dubbed “peanuts” - and sang a song as he walked down to the cells.

The court was shown CCTV footage of the two men as they walked towards the park and came across Sir Chris in a “chance encounter”.

“Professor Whitty saw two people approaching him, Lewis Hughes asked for a photo”, said prosecutor Iestyn Morgan.

“Professor Whitty replied ‘no’ as he always does in these circumstances. Lewis Hughes placed his arm around Professor Whitty, and this defendant, Jonathan Chew, stepped in front of Professor Whitty.

“He was filming the matter on a camera, and Professor Whitty noted the smell of alcohol on the two men.

“Professor Whitty tried pushing through them to the safety of what he saw nearby, being a number of police constables.”

The court heard Chew, who has autism and learning difficulties, gave his brother’s name and an old address when questioned by police at the scene.

He has a catalogue of previous offences, committed under 17 different aliases, and including public order and offences against the person.

He was on licence at the time of the incident, from a 42-month prison sentence for intimidating a juror with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring said the video of the incident being posted online had “retraumatised and humiliated” Sir Chris: “This is why he said he wanted it prosecuted.”

Hughes, from Romford in Essex, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault by beating in July last year and was handed an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Chew, of Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded guilty causing harassment, alarm or distress and obstructing a PC.

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