Prof Chris Whitty responds to verbal attack by Covid denier

The chief medical officer was verbally abused by a passerby in the street. Credit: PA

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the "young lad" who verbally abused him in the street will hopefully "become a model citizen in due course".

Prof Chris Whitty was abused in the street by a TikTok user who accused the doctor of "lying" about Covid-19 cases.

When asked about the incident at the government briefing on Wednesday, Prof Whitty said he "didn’t think anything of" being catcalled by a young man while walking near Westminster.

"The odd young lad, showing off, occasionally happens," he told a Downing Street briefing.

"I didn’t think anything of it frankly. I was very surprised it was picked up by the media at all as anything of any importance.

"I’m sure he’ll become a model citizen in due course and hopefully more like Captain Tom, who is the kind of person who I think much more exemplifies the spirit of the UK."

The video was originally uploaded onto TikTok by a user under the name "frosted_flakes21", it has been reported.

In a video posted to social media, a young man can be heard hurling abuse at the public health expert, who appears to be waiting to purchase food.

The man tells Prof Whitty: “Liar. You’re a liar. Mandem is a liar. You’re a liar. You lie about the Covid-19 cases. Stop lying to the TV, man.”

The doctor does not respond to the taunts as he puts his face mask on and waits outside a food stall.

Asked about the attack, the prime minister's 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 behaviour."

Matt Vickers, Stockton South MP, shared the video on Twitter, and said: "This is appalling, I really can't believe this footage.

"Chris Whitty is doing all he can to help guide us through this crisis and should never be subjected to this abuse."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock branded the cat-caller "pathetic".

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “I think the individual concerned is pathetic, I think it is ridiculous what he is doing.

“Chris Whitty is one of our greatest living scientists and his advice to the government all the way through this, and his advice to all of us in the population, has been incredibly smart and thoughtful, and he is a great asset to this nation.

“The idea that someone would do something as silly as that is ridiculous.”

Matt Hancock called the TikTok user "pathetic" Credit: PA

He added: “Chris Whitty is a scientist of great repute and, frankly, he should be respected by everybody.”

It is not clear when the video was taken. Prof Whitty has not yet publicly responded to the video.

Prof Whitty, who has appeared in numerous Downing Street briefings, is the most senior advisor to the UK government on issues relating to coronavirus and public health.

In January, he warned the country is facing the "worst weeks of the pandemic" and urged people to follow lockdown rules in a bid to stop cases and deaths from rising.

He is also a doctor at University College London Hospitals and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and the Gresham Professor of Physic at Gresham College.

Prof Whitty is an epidemiologist and has undertaken research and worked as a doctor in the UK, Africa and Asia. He was formerly a Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.