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Man to appear in court after BBC journalist chased by anti-lockdown protesters in Downing Street

·1-min read

Police have charged a man in connection with the alleged harassment of Newsnight editor Nicholas Watt by a mob of anti-lockdown protesters.

Nicholas Watt, Newsnight’s political editor, was heckled as he left Downing Street on Monday.

Martin Hockridge, 57, of Harpenden, was interviewed under caution on Tuesday at a Hertfordshire police station as social media footage of the reporter being hounded by a group of anti-lockdown protesters went viral.

Later the same evening, Hockridge was 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.

Boris Johnson hit out at the actions of the group on Monday’s protest, tweeting: “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.”

Hockridge will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 29.

Posting on Facebook on Tuesday night, Hockridge said: “I stand by my actions … it is unacceptable that the BBC lies and spread fear among the nation.”

He also called Mr Watt a “weasel” and suggested he was “hoping for that reaction” by walking through the crowd while wearing a BBC lanyard.

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.”

Police said enquiries are ongoing to identify other people and are appealing for the public’s help.

Anyone with information should call 101 or tweet @MetCC. Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111.

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