One of the men who was seen grabbing Professor Chris Whitty around the neck is an estate agent who was reportedly sacked after his boss saw the video of the incident.
The Sun has revealed that the two men who grabbed Prof Whitty around the neck were Lewis Hughes, from Romford, Essex, and his friend Jonathan Chew, both 24.
Lewis told The Sun : “There was no malicious intent, I didn’t want to upset him.”
The friends had been on an anti-vax march in London on Sunday (June 27) when they spotted Prof Whitty, 55, at around 3pm in St James’ Park.
They filmed their meeting with the ‘famous’ scientific officer in a 18-second video which brought widespread criticism, including from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Lewis claimed that all he had wanted was ‘a selfie with Chris Whitty to show my mum’.
Lewis worked for Caplen Estates Agents and is the brother of reality star Ashleigh Hughes.
He admitted the pair had been drinking before the encounter, and apologised.
“I absolutely apologise for any upset I caused,” he said.
“If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that.
“He is quite a timid, shy person and I think that is why he didn’t say, ‘Get off me’. If he had said that and I had realised how he felt, I wouldn’t have put my arm round him.
“I put my arm around him but he started moving away so my arm ended up going around his neck more.”
He continued: “I feel very let down by Boris, for him to call me a thug. I actually voted for him as well.
“I have worked every day of my life since I left college, I have never been in any trouble. Now I have to start from the beginning again and I loved my job.”
His friend, Jonathan, told The Sun he had ADHD and autism and said: “Sometimes things seem a good idea and really they’re not.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong. We just saw him, and thought, ‘That’s the guy from the TV. He’s famous’.
“We didn’t cause any harm to him. We just wanted a selfie.”
Lewis told The Sun that the police told him they would not be taking further action.
The professor, who has led many of the coronavirus press conferences, looked extremely uncomfortable as the men manhandled him in St James’s Park in a video clip that was shared on Twitter on Monday evening (June 28).
The men excitedly chant “oi oi” and are heard asking for “one photo please” as the scientist tries to get away.
The professor, who has helped lead the country through the pandemic, is shown ducking out of the way as one of the men tried to put him in a headlock to pose for a photo.
The original video posted on social media has since been deleted.
In the footage the men then follow Professor Whitty and he is seen looking worried on camera as the men repeatedly grab him and pose.
In the aftermath, the scientist said: “The odd young lad showing off occasionally happens.
“I didn’t think anything of it, frankly. I was very surprised that it was picked up by the media as anything of any importance.”
Of the youngster behind the clip, Professor Whitty said: “I’m sure he’ll become a model citizen in due course, hopefully more like Captain Tom, who’s the kind of person who I think exemplifies the spirit of the UK.”
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