Anti-lockdown protesters convicted after BBC journalist Nick Watt mobbed in London


ix anti-lockdown protesters who verbally abused BBC journalist Nick Watt in London have been convicted.

Five men and a woman chased and abused the Newsnight political editor as he left Downing Street in Whitehall on June 14 last year.

In a video, widely shared on Twitter, a man dressed in a leather biker waistcoat, barks “traitor” repeatedly at Mr Watt as he is outnumbered by the crowd. Another man in a blue shirt chest bumps the fleeing Mr Watts nearly knocking him to the ground and shouts in his face.

The distressing footage prompted prime minister Boris Johnson to tweet: “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.”

A number of MPs also condemned the abuse.

The mob was charged with using threatening or abusive words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Gary Purnell, 45, Martin Hockridge, 58, Alexander Peat, 35, Christopher Aitken, 63, and Djazia Chaib-Eddour, 44 were found guilty on Monday.

Martin Hockridge outside court in June

/ PA

Joseph Olswang, 40, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

“A video of this incident prompted a huge amount of online comment and public concern. The behaviour shown by these people was unacceptable,” said Detective Constable James Harold.

“Members of the public, of any profession, have the right to go about their day without being subjected to verbal harassment or actions that put them in fear for their safety.”

The group stood trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court from June 29 to July 1. They wil be sentenced on August 30.

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