The prime minister tweeted: “I condemn the behaviour of these thugs. Our hard-working public servants should not have to face this kind of intimidation on our streets and we will not tolerate it.”
Police are investigating after a video was shared online appearing to show England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty being harassed by two men in a park.
Metropolitan Police tweeted: “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.”
The video, lasting around 20 seconds, shows two grinning men grabbing Prof Whitty, apparently filmed by a third man, as they shout “oi oi” and say “One photo please?”.
As Prof Whitty attempts to walk away, the men grab him again. With a line of police vans visible in the background, a voice is heard saying “Leave the gentleman alone” before the clip ends.
The widely-shared video has sparked a heated reaction, with a number of MPs swift to condemn those involved and some figures calling for police protection for key scientific advisers during the pandemic.
The new health secretary Sajid Javid said such behaviour will not be tolerated and that those responsible for acting in this way towards Professor Chris Whitty “should be ashamed”.
Mr Javid tweeted: “I’ve seen the video of the CMO being harassed. It’s appalling and totally unacceptable. The CMO works tirelessly on behalf of the country.
“We will not tolerate this sort of behaviour towards our public servants. The men behaving in this disgraceful way should be ashamed.”
Downing Street has branded social media footage of a verbal attack on Professor Chris Whitty as “unacceptable” on Monday afternoon.
Prime minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “Chris Whitty is an outstanding public servant who has worked incredibly hard and tirelessly to help steer us through what has been a very, very challenging time over the past year.
“And it is clearly unacceptable that somebody who has done so much is being subject to this sort of behavior.”