Alexander Peat and Joseph Olswang chased Nick Watt through Whitehall
Anti-lockdown protesters scream abuse at Nick Watt (left). Picture: Resistance GB/YouTube
Two local men who were part of an anti-lockdown mob that harassed and abused a BBC journalist have avoided going to jail.
Video footage showed how the political editor of Newsnight, Nicholas Watt was chased through streets around Whitehall on 14 June last year by group of people swearing at him and accusing him of being a ‘traitor’ and ‘scum’ because he worked for the ‘mainstream media’.
Six people were identified by police as being responsible for the harassment and a trial was held recently.
40-year-old Joseph Olswang, who attended Latymer School and owns a children’s clothes brand and promotes music to radio stations, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.
35-year-old Alexander Peat denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress, but was found guilty and given a community order and is now required to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Along with the other defendants he is required to pay a total of £395 in costs and other charges and slapped with an indefinite restraining order not to contact Mr Watt.
The harassment of Mr Watt continued during the trial and the judge found that he had been intimidated by people outside the court. The prosecution barrister needed a police escort when leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court during the proceedings at which Djazia Chaib-Eddour, 44, Martin Hockridge, 58, Christopher Aitken, 62, and Gary Purnell, 45 were facing charges as well as Peat. Aitken failed to attend the trial and an arrest warrant has been issued for him.
The judge ruled that the blame for the harassment of Mr Watt and the prosecution lawyer could not be attributed to the defendants as they were in court at the time.
She said, 'This was an extremely unpleasant incident in which each of you used abusive words and threatening behaviour towards Mr Watt.
'This was committed against somebody who was providing a service to the public, even if you did not agree that service was being performed to the standard it should have been.'
In his victim impact statement, Mr Watt said that he felt in ‘immense danger’ due to the size and aggression of the crowd and told how he has continuing concerns for his safety as he has been the subject of death threats on conspiracy theorist forums. These have caused great distress to him and his family.
Detective Constable James Harold, the officer in the case, said, "A video of this incident prompted a huge amount of online comment and public concern and the behaviour shown by these people was unacceptable.
"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."
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September 9, 2022