Shocking footage has emerged of Professor Chris Whitty being harassed by two men in a park, and fellow Britons are, rightly, up in arms.

The video, lasting around 20 seconds, shows two grinning thugs grabbing England’s chief medical officer (CMO), as they shout: “Oi oi” and “one photo please?”.

Prof Whitty attempts to walk away but the men grab him again.

With a line of police vans visible in the background, a voice can then be heard saying: “Leave the gentleman alone” before the clip ends.

The Metropolitan Police is now investigating the incident, which has prompted fury and despair across social media.

Some Twitter users have called for health and science officials to receive police protection, while others have asked how society has reached the point that such lengths should be needed.

Actor and TV and radio presenter Adil Ray said it was “an utterly disgusting way to treat a person who has devoted his time to save our lives”.

While former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal suggested Whitty and other scientific advisers would be better treated by the Government if they were old statues:

Here’s what other commentators have had to say:

MPs are among the high-profile figures condemning those involved, with the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeting:

Meanwhile, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi wrote:

And Labour MP Jess Phillips said Prof Whitty had been made to feel “awful and uncomfortable” as she issued a reminder that public figures “are human beings”:

Speaking hours after the disturbing footage emerged, Priti Patel confirmed that officials were looking into giving Prof Whitty “the right kind of support”.

The Home Secretary told Times Radio Breakfast on Tuesday: “Chris is just a remarkable public servant, a man who has been leading the whole coronavirus response – nationally, yes, he has a high profile, and I think he’s an incredibly respected figure.

“I’m horrified by what has happened to Chris and the police are actually involved as well and we’re also speaking to Chris to look at what we can do to support him, it’s just appalling.”

Asked if she thought the CMO needed to be granted special security measures, she said: “I can’t speak about that but it’s important that we make sure that Chris is given the right kind of support.

“It’s terrible to see such an important public figure, someone that day in, day out, has been serving our country in the way in which he has to keep us safe, being subject to just appalling abuse.”

It is not the first time Prof Whitty has been forced to endure public harassment.

Earlier this month, he was confronted in a street in Oxford by a man accusing him of lying to the public about coronavirus, while in February a man accosted the chief medical officer outside Westminster.

The Met has responded to the latest incident with a statement reading: “We are aware of a video being shared online showing an incident in St James’s Park. Officers spoke to all those involved at the time and their details were taken.

“We are in contact with the victim and the circumstances continue to be investigated.”

The men filmed the incidents on mobile phones.

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