Essex man accused of assaulting Prof Sir Chris Whitty warned he 'could face jail'

Jonathan Chew at Westminster Magistrates' Court where his trial was adjourned.
Copyright: PA
Jonathan Chew at Westminster Magistrates' Court where his trial was adjourned. Credit: PA

A man accused of assaulting Professor Sir Chris Whitty faces the "very real possibility" of being jailed, a judge has warned him.

Jonathan Chew, 24, and former estate agent Lewis Hughes, 24, filmed themselves with England's chief medical officer as he walked through St James's Park in Westminster on 27 June last year.

Mr Chew denies assault after footage of the incident, lasting around 20 seconds, was widely shared on social media.

Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring adjourned the trial until January 27 after a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Hughes, of Romford, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault by beating at the same court in July and was given a suspended sentence.

Rabah Kherbane, defending, asked for the case to be adjourned after Chew's former solicitor withdrew due to being "professionally embarrassed" following the defendant's behaviour in court.

Mr Kherbane said the defendant, of Chelmsford, Essex, had a number of conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism which would make it difficult for him to follow proceedings.

Jonathan Chew tried to cover his face as he left Westminster Magistrates' Court. Credit: PA

He also said he had not received court documents in time and Mr Chew had not received anything at his address.

Mr Chew, who also denies wilfully obstructing Pc Steven Ozden, accused the Crown Prosecution Service of "lying" about delivering the documents to his home.

The defendant was repeatedly told to be quiet and stop interrupting proceedings by Mr Goldspring.

Mr Chew was then told he would be fitted with an electronic tag keeping him at his home between 9pm and 4am due to "concerns" over him not being at the address on a number of occasions.

Delivering his ruling about adjourning the hearing, Mr Goldspring warned: "Mr Chew should be aware that Mr Kherbane has rightfully said there is a very real possibility there could be a custodial sentence."

An investigation was launched after Prof Whitty was accosted in St James's Park at around 7.20pm on Sunday 27 June.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police carried out a welfare check on the chief medical officer, who did not suffer any injuries.

Sir Chris was knighted in the New Year's Honours list for his work with the government during the pandemic.