EXCLUSIVE: Mother of yob who jostled Chris Whitty apologises and says her son ‘misread the situation’ after his estate agent friend got sack over the shocking incident
- Jonathan Chew and friend Lewis Hughes, both 24, grabbed Chris Whitty in video
- Government’s top medical adviser was walking through St James’ Park at time
- Home Secretary Priti Patel and PM Boris Johnson labelled the pair ‘thugs’
- Speaking to MailOnline, Chew’s mother Natasha, 49, joined in the criticism
- But she said her son meant no harm and had simply misread the situation
The mother of a ‘yob’ who grappled with Professor Chris Whitty in a shocking video has issued a heartfelt apology on behalf of her son and his family.
The viral video of Jonathan Chew and his friend Lewis Hughes, both 24, grabbing the Government’s top medical adviser as he walked through St James’ Park received widespread condemnation.
Ministers including Home Secretary Priti Patel and PM Boris Johnson labelled the pair ‘thugs’ after they apparently tried to force Prof Whitty into posing for a selfie.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Chew’s mother Natasha, 49, joined in the criticism, saying: ‘As his mother, I was not overjoyed at the way in which the boys asked for a photo, the over-exuberant nature in which they approached Mr Whitty.’
Hughes, who has been fired from his job at Caplen Estates Agents following the backlash, has since tried to explain his actions, saying they were ‘not malicious’.
Chew (left, and right in the video with Whitty) said he has ADHD and autism and said their interaction with Prof Whitty seemed like a good idea at the time. He also claimed the pair only wanted a selfie and meant no harm
And Mrs Chew, from Barking, east London, whose son has ADHD and autism, said he meant no harm by his behaviour and had simply misread the situation.
She said: ‘First and foremost I would like to apologise for any distress that the incident may have caused Mr Whitty.
‘My son and his friend had been enjoying their day, having a few social drinks together when they spotted Mr Whitty.
‘Realising who he was, and understanding how important he is to our country at this very moment, they wanted to get a picture with him.
Hughes, 24, (left, and right in the video) was fired from Caplen Estates Agents after the clip of him and friend Chew, also 24, with the Chief Medical Officer found its way to his boss
Hughes (pictured, who filmed himself holding Chris Whitty in a headlock, has been sacked as an estate agent after his sickened boss found out
The viral video of Chew and Hughes grabbing the Government’s top medical adviser as he walked through St James’ Park received widespread condemnation
‘As with most celebrities and famous people, it is commonplace for the public to want a picture with them and you can clearly hear Jonathan asking for a picture with Mr Whitty.
‘However, due to Jonathan’s autism, he finds it difficult to read situations and was not aware that his excitement at spotting Mr Whitty was causing any distress. I hope Mr Whitty is feeling more at ease now that sufficient time has passed and he can continue with his job without distractions. ‘
She added: ‘Jonathan may have misread the situation but did not intend any harm at all.
‘Hopefully now the prime minister and all of the MPs, who have taken time out of their busy schedules to comment on and discuss the situation, can return to more important issues, instead of focussing on a none political or Covid issue, this was a request for a photograph.’
She also hit out at the headline coverage the incident has received, saying: ‘This incident was witnessed by armed police who chose to have a conversation with the boys and Mr Whitty and move the boys on.
‘It has taken centre-stage across all of the main UK news broadcasters at a time in which several more significant stories have come out involving mishandlings by members of our government.
Hughes (pictured), from Romford, Essex, said he ‘absolutely apologises’ for causing upset, but said if Prof Whitty had told him to get off, he would have
Hughes (pictured) said he had been drinking prior to accosting Prof Whitty
Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty is seen walking past the Department of Health and Social Care in London
‘Jonathan wishes to apologise for any distress this incident has caused Mr Whitty, we hope he can move on from this incident as we also wish to.’
Hughes, the son of a car sales businessman, from nearby Romford, Essex, told The Sun: ‘If I made him feel uncomfortable, which it does look like I did, then I am sorry to him for that.
‘To be honest I just wanted a selfie with Chris Whitty to show my mum. There was no malicious intent, I didn’t want to upset him.’
Hughes also revealed how he and his friend Chew had been drinking during an anti-vax march in London prior to the incident.
Chew attempted to explain his actions, saying: ‘Sometimes things seem a good idea and really they’re not.’
He added: ‘We didn’t cause any harm to him. We just wanted a selfie.’
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