The men who apparently accosted Professor Chris Whitty earlier this week have been named and shamed, with one saying he’s lost his job over the incident.

Footage of the encounter went viral on social media, with users branding it “utterly disgusting” and calling for the “morons” responsible to be caught and punished.

The video, which lasts around 20 seconds and was filmed in St James’s Park in central London, shows the two grinning perpetrators grabbing England’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) as they shout: “Oi oi” and “One photo please?”.

The pair have now been identified as 24-year-old Lewis Hughes, from Romford in Essex, and his friend Jonathan Chew, also 24.

Hughes has apologised for “any upset I caused”, adding that if he made the top medic feel “uncomfortable”, then “I am sorry to him for that”.

He told The Sun that Prof Whitty is clearly “quite a timid, shy person and I think that is why he didn’t say, ‘Get off me’.

“If he had said that, and I had realised how he felt, I wouldn’t have put my arm round him,” he insisted.

The 24-year-old said he had been hoping to get a selfie with the CMO to show to his mother, stressing: “There was no malicious intent, I didn’t want to upset him.”

He added that he has been sacked from his role as an estate agent as a result of the fallout, which has prompted some discussion on Twitter.

Asked by LBC’s Nick Ferrari whether Hughes’s boss was right to give him the boot, users were divided, with some suggesting the move was excessive.

Here’s how they responded:

And here’s what supporters of the sacking had to say:

Chew has also spoken out over the incident, reinforcing his pal’s attempts at self-defence by insisting: “We didn’t cause any harm to him. We just wanted a selfie.”

The Metropolitan Police said the force was still investigating the incident, which was condemned by the Prime Minister and other politicians.

“I’m shocked at seeing the despicable harassment of chief medical officer Chris Whitty,” Boris Johnson said.

“I condemn the behaviour of these thugs. Our hard-working public servants should not have to face this kind of intimidation on our streets and we will not tolerate it.”

A spokesman for the Met said: “We are aware of a video being shared online showing an incident that took place in St James’s Park at around 19:20 on the evening of Sunday 27 June.

“Officers were in the vicinity policing a nearby demonstration and intervened when they saw what was happening.

“They spoke to the victim and checked his welfare. He had not suffered any injuries and informed officers that at that time he did not wish to make any allegations. He then went on his way.

“Officers continued to speak to the two men and recorded their details. They were robustly warned about their behaviour and ordered to leave the area.

“Police remain in contact with the alleged victim. The incident has been recorded as a common assault and continues to be investigated by the Met’s Public Order crime team.”

It is not the first time Prof Whitty, who has taken a central role in decision making and communications in the Government’s response to the pandemic, has been faced 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.

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