Monday, 27 Sep 2021

Protester who 'hounded' BBC journalist Nicholas Watt at anti-lockdown demo revealed as he insists ‘I stand by my actions

A PROTESTER who has been charged after a BBC journalist was hounded by anti-lockdown campaigners has insisted “I stand by my actions”, The Sun Online can reveal.

Martin Hockridge had allegedly joined the angry protest that saw political editor Nicholas Watt chased by demonstrators screaming "c***" and blocking the reporter's path as he tried to escape.

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Hockridge, 57, from Harpenden, has been charged with a public order offence for using threatening, abusive or insulting words towards another person with the intention to cause distress.

And The Sun Online can today reveal the brazen campaigner has posted on his social media claiming “I stand by my actions” before accusing Newsnight's political editor of “engineering” the incident.

He went on to write “this man is a ‘traitor’ for promoting lies” and called Boris Johnson a liar after he slammed the actions of the protesters.

Responding to the Prime Ministers tweet he saidMr Watt “deserved the verbal statements and questions” from the baying mob. 

Hockridge can allegedly be seen in the footage screaming in the face of Mr Watt, calling him a “traitor” as he and the group of protesters chased him into Downing Street.

Mr Watt was first captured on video walking quickly through Whitehall near police in high-vis jackets.

In the footage, the journalist – who wore a blue BBC lanyard around his neck – was then followed closely by a man wearing a leather waistcoat and a blonde woman in a minidress who pointed their fingers at him.

Mr Watt, who wore a blue face mask, then turned to escape their path – only for a crowd of around 15 to chase him across a road.

But more quickly followed – and the campaigners turned nasty, chanting abuse at him as he kept his head down.

One man in a navy jacket then grabbed Mr Watt by the shoulder as he recorded the incident with his mobile phone.

Others shouted at him: "Why have you lied?"

The reporter was finally forced to run away as the crowd pressed in and began booing.

He returned to the line of cops – and pushed through a barrier into Downing Street to escape as protesters shouted: "Shame on you."

Hockridge was identified after the footage went viral when it was posted on social media. 

Metropolitan Police officers have launched an investigation after concerns were raised over the police response during the incident. 

A spokesman for BBC News said: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable.

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

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Officers investigating an incident in which a journalist was confronted and chased in the vicinity of Whitehall have charged a man.

“A video that has been shared widely on social media shows a group of protestors pursuing the journalist first on Whitehall, then into Richmond Terrace, on the afternoon of Monday, 14 June.

“After reviewing the video footage, officers identified a number of possible offences and an investigation was launched.

“On Tuesday afternoon, Martin Hockridge, 57, of Harpenden, was interviewed under caution at a Hertfordshire police station.

“Later the same evening, he 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.

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

“Enquiries are ongoing to identify other people who were involved in the incident and detectives 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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