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Boris Johnson has condemned 'disgraceful' footage of a BBC reporter being chased and abused by a group of anti-lockdown protesters.

A video clip posted by an anti-lockdown group shows BBC Newsnight political editor Nick Watt pursued through Whitehall in central London on Monday.

In the footage, taken outside Downing Street, Watt runs for his safety while being chased and shouted at by a number of people.

The Metropolitan Police, which was present outside Downing Street at the time, has launched an investigation but said its officers “were not in the immediate vicinity of the incident”.

Clearly concerned for his wellbeing, the Newsnight journalist starts running to get away from the chasing mob as they continue to shout abuse at him.

An anti-lockdown protester shouts at BBC Newsnight's Nick Watt. (Resistance GB/YouTube)
An anti-lockdown protester, left, shouts at BBC Newsnight's Nick Watt, centre. (Resistance GB/YouTube)
The BBC's Nick Watt was shouted at by anti-lockdown protesters.  (Resistance GB/YouTube)
The BBC's Nick Watt is shouted at by anti-lockdown protesters. (Resistance GB/YouTube)

In the three-minute clip, they can be heard shouting “traitor”, “run you ****” and “shame on you” at the journalist.

Downing Street said the prime minister had seen the footage, describing it as "deeply disturbing". "Journalists should never face that kind of behaviour. The right to protest may be fundamental in our democracy but violence, threats and intimidation like this is never acceptable," a spokesperson said.

Johnson tweeted: “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.”

The clip was posted on YouTube by Resistance GB, a group that claims to be “anti-lockdown, pro freedom, liberal” on its Instagram page.

Nick Watt is political editor of Newsnight. (BBC)
Nick Watt is political editor of Newsnight. (BBC)
 Protesters gather outside Downing Street during the anti-lockdown rally in London.
Anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine and anti-mask protesters gathered outside the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street as the government announced that lifting further COVID-19 restrictions will be delayed until July 19th. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Nick Watt was chased by protesters who had gathered outside Downing Street during an anti-lockdown rally on Monday. (PA)

In the video, Watt is followed by a number of protesters, one of whom grabs him by the shoulder, while others shout in his face.

To escape the protesters, he eventually runs past a police cordon and into the Downing Street entrance.

The incident happened on the day Boris Johnson announced a four-week delay to the end of England’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The BBC condemned the behaviour of the protesters.

A spokeswoman for the BBC told Yahoo News UK: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable. 

“All journalists should be able to carry out their work without intimidation or impediment.”

On Twitter, there was widespread support for Watt from his fellow journalists.

Newsnight editor Esme Wren said: “Harassing and intimidating any journalist is completely unacceptable. 

“All journalists should be able to do their work without impediment or risking their safety.” 

Jess Brammar, a former Newsnight deputy editor, tweeted: “The video of Nick Watt being chased and abused by a mob is absolutely horrifying.

“Huge solidarity with him. It’s disgusting, he’s doing his job. I know the BBC will be rightly furious about it.”

Journalist Paul Mason, who also worked at Newsnight, said: “Solidarity with BBC journalist Nick Watt. 

“The harassment of journalists by far-right penetrated groups is part of a street atmosphere that's been allowed to fester around Whitehall since late 2019.”

One protester grabbed BBC journalist Nick Watt by the shoulder. (Resistance GB/YouTube)
One protester grabbed BBC journalist Nick Watt by the shoulder. (Resistance GB/YouTube)
BBC Newsnight political editor Nick Watt was at an anti-lockdown protest outside Downing Street. (Resistance GB/YouTube)
BBC Newsnight political editor Nick Watt was at an anti-lockdown protest outside Downing Street. (Resistance GB/YouTube)

Sky News presenter Adam Boulton tweeted: “These sorts of encounters are becoming commonplace for reporters in #ageofrage. All support to Nick Watt.”

Labour MP David Lammy wrote: “Absolutely horrific. Solidarity with Nick Watt. 

“It is a fundamental principle of any democracy that journalists are free to do their jobs without intimidation.”

Home secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “The video of BBC Newsnight's Nick Watt being abused by a mob is appalling and distressing. This behaviour is never acceptable.”

 

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “We are aware of a video that has been shared online which shows a journalist being aggressively confronted and chased by a group of protestors in the vicinity of Whitehall on Monday.

“The behaviour shown in the video is unacceptable.

“In this instance, while officers were nearby as part of the policing response to the ongoing protest, they were not in the immediate vicinity of the incident. 

“It was not clear at the time exactly what had taken place but after reviewing the video footage, a number of possible offences have been identified and an investigation has been launched.”

The force asked anyone with information that could help identify those involved to call 101 or tweet @MetCC, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. By Ross McGuinness, Yahoo News

Photo via MyjoyOnline.com

 

A 34-member Rwandan delegation comprising government officials and relevant stakeholders in the private sector are in the country to explore bilateral opportunities in business, tourism and economic development.

Their arrival is in response to an earlier visit in March this year where a trade and media delegation from Ghana, undertook a tour in Rwanda to promote regional tourism and trade in anticipation of greater collaboration under the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

As part of the visit, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre in partnership with the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Tourism Authority and the Ghana Tourism Federation, has organized a Business Breakfast Meeting intended to escalate previous efforts in encouraging business to business (B2B) linkages and institutional collaboration between the two countries.

The meeting also presents a platform to the visiting delegation to explore investment opportunities within key sectors in the Ghanaian economy such as tourism, education, mining and financial technology.

Other highlights of the visit include a tour of historical and cultural sites in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Central Regions. - MyjoyOnline.com

 

NAIROBI, June 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya said Monday it will reopen its embassy in Mogadishu as soon as possible as Nairobi welcomed the invitation by Mogadishu to fully restore diplomatic missions between the two neighboring countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited Somali ambassador to Kenya to return to Nairobi and resume his duties.

"The Kenyan government will proceed to reopen its embassy in Mogadishu as soon as possible," the ministry said in a statement.

The move came after Kenya on June 10 lifted its ban on flights to and from Somalia after a nearly one-month ban amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Somalia later welcomed the resumption of flights and reiterated its commitment to restore and accelerate diplomatic, trade, and people-to-people relations for the prosperity of Somalia and Kenya.

Somalia in December 2020 severed its diplomatic ties with neighboring Kenya, accusing Nairobi of frequently violating Mogadishu's sovereignty which the latter denied. Mogadishu restored diplomatic relations with Nairobi on May 5 with mediation by Qatar. - Xinhua

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