Footage has emerged online apparently showing Prof Chris Whitty being accosted in public, with the vaccine minister calling for the “thugs” to face charges.
The video, which has been shared on social media, seems to show the chief medical officer struggling to get away as the people filming in selfie mode appear to manhandle him.
Nadhim Zahawi said: “This is disgusting and these thugs must be found and charged. Zero tolerance for harassing a public servant.”
The Metropolitan police have said that they are investigating the incident: “We are aware of a video being shared online showing an incident in St James’s Park. Officers spoke to all those involved at the time and their details were taken. We are in contact with the victim and the circumstances continue to be investigated.”
In the video, Whitty manages to duck his head under an arm of the men who are holding on to him. As he tries to walk away a man can be heard saying: “Just one photo, please,” while another says: “One photo mate.”
They then pull him back towards them putting their arms around him as he again attempts to get away.
It’s not the first time that Whitty has faced harassment. Earlier this month he was followed down a street by a prominent anti-vaccine activist who yelled at him for being a “liar”.
In February he was also called a “liar” multiple times while waiting for a takeaway lunch at a street food stall, sparking condemnation when the footage emerged.
Last week Whitty’s deputy, Jonathan Van-Tam, was confronted in the street outside the Ministry of Defence building by an anti-vaccine activist who accused him of poisoning Matt Hancock.
Footage of the incident, which was shared on Facebook, shows the activist following him and yelling at him. Downing Street condemned the abuse, calling it “appalling behaviour”.