BBC reporter Nicholas Watt appears to have been hounded through the streets of London by a group of anti-lockdown protestors, in an incident that has been widely condemned by senior British journalists and lawmakers.
In the video, which is watermarked with the logo of YouTube channel Resistance GB, Watt is pursued by the protestors, some of whom shout “traitor” and “scum” in his face. The incident appears to have taken place outside Downing Street, Westminster, with police officers watching on.
The full three-minute video is on the Resistance GB YouTube channel. It shows Watt, the political editor of BBC current affairs show Newsnight, walking through the crowd before he is confronted. The situation quickly escalates as Watt is targeted by the protesters and he runs to the safety of Downing Street.
A 45-second clip is being widely shared on Twitter, with Watt’s colleagues lining up to express their solidarity.
“Harassing and intimidating any journalist is completely unacceptable. All journalists should be able to do their work without impediment or risking their safety,” tweeted Newsnight editor Esme Wren. A BBC News spokeswoman endorsed Wren’s words when contacted by Deadline.
Culture minister John Whittingdale tweeted that the intimidation of Watt was “totally unacceptable,” while Labour MP David Lammy added: “Absolutely horrific. Solidarity with Nick Watt. It is a fundamental principle of any democracy that journalists are free to do their jobs without intimidation.”
The anti-lockdown protest follows UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delaying by a month the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England. Speaking yesterday, he said the delayed unlocking would “save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”
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