'Disgraceful': Ex-estate agent sentenced for Chris Whitty assault

Lewis Hughes, 24, from Romford in Essex, leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, after he p

Lewis Hughes, 24, from Romford in Essex, leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, after he pleaded guilty to assault. - Credit: PA/Kirsty O'Connor

A former estate agent from Harold Hill who put Professor Chris Whitty in a headlock has been given a suspended sentence.

Lewis Hughes, 24, of Wigton Way, pled guilty to assault by beating at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today (July 30). 

In June, he put England's chief medical officer in a "loose headlock" in St James's Park after the professor declined to have a picture taken with him. 

Prof Whitty was not hurt in the incident. 

Hughes lost his job after footage of the incident circulated online. 

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty

Professor Chris Whitty is chief medical officer (CMO) for England - Credit: PA

In court today, senior district judge Paul Goldspring said: “He (Prof Whitty) goes about his very difficult job without the expectation of yobs like you accosting him, assaulting him.

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“And to compound it all, he was further humiliated by that video being posted.”

Hughes was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for two years and was ordered to pay a total of £307 in fines and compensation.

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“The act itself is not the most serious but there are very few cases that are more serious in my view," the judge added.

He told Hughes: “Let it be a lesson to you, yobbish behaviour and drinking alcohol has consequences.”

Luke Staton, prosecuting, told the court Prof Whitty had not intended to report the footage until it had been released online.

Prof Whitty recognised Hughes was not “aggressive”, he said.

Kalsoom Shah, from the CPS, said it was "shocking and disgraceful": “Like everyone else, public figures should be free to go about their day to day work without fear of being targeted and assaulted."

Laurie-Anne Power, defending, said Hughes had been in London for a dance festival prior to the incident.

She said: “Ten seconds of madness has cost this young, ambitious man his future.”

Ms Power said Hughes is “remorseful for his actions” and has paid a “heavy price” through losing his job as an estate agent.

The court heard he approached Prof Whitty merely to get a photograph, and not because of his views on the pandemic.

However, Ms Power said Hughes recognised that Prof Whitty had not given his consent to be touched.

A second man, Jonathan Chew, 24, from Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded not guilty to the same charge of assault by beating.

Chew also denied wilfully obstructing police constable Steven Ozden on the same day.

He was granted bail and asked to appear at the same court on November 23 for a trial.

Information supplied by PA.

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