Moment Jonathan Van-Tam subjected to 'appalling' abuse in street by anti-vaxxer

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3 min read

Watch: Moment Jonathan Van-Tam subjected to 'appalling' abuse in street by anti-vaxxer

This is the moment Jonathan Van-Tam was subjected to "appalling" abuse in the street by an anti-vaccination protester.

Boris Johnson has led the condemnation of the footage, saying people fighting the coronavirus pandemic "should never face" such behaviour.

A video, broadcast live on Facebook, showed Prof Van-Tam, one of the faces of the UK’s coronavirus response, being followed and hounded by a man as he entered the Ministry of Defence building in London on Tuesday.

The man, identifying as Geza Tarjanyi on Facebook, approached Prof Van-Tam in the street and asked: “What was really in that needle that you put into Matt Hancock?" Prof Van-Tam was the person who gave the health secretary his first COVID-19 jab in April.

Prof Jonathan Van-Tam walks as he is abused by an anti-vaccination protester.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam walks as he is abused by an anti-vaccination protester.

He said England’s deputy chief medical officer was “lying” to the public and told him: “You can run, but you can’t hide, Van-Tam.”

The man said the “British people are going to get justice for what you’ve done to this country”.

He also said “all of you liars will be going to prison – I guarantee it”. He went on to accuse him of "genocide".

Prof Van-Tam remained silent, apart from when the man said we are “supposed to be in the worst pandemic of all time”, to which Prof Van-Tam muttered: “It is.”

The man then followed Prof Van-Tam into the Ministry of Defence building, and yelled at the medic as he tried to speak to a receptionist.

At one point, Prof Van-Tam covered his left ear with a piece of paper as the man continued to shout. 

Prof Van-Tam then walked to the building's security screening area, at which point the man said "bye-bye Van-Tam, see you in court" and exited, saying: "Got him."

Johnson’s official spokesman said on Wednesday: “People working to fight the pandemic and save lives, which is what Prof Van-Tam is doing every single day, should never face that kind of appalling behaviour for doing their job.

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“The right to free speech is fundamental to our democracy, but violence, threats or intimidation is absolutely never acceptable.”

England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty has been subjected to similar abuse in the past. In February, a video emerged of him being called a "liar" at a food market in London.

The man identifying as Tarjanyi also suggested he has targeted Prof Whitty in the past, telling Prof Van-Tam: "Chris Whitty never speaks to me, do you think you're brave enough to speak to me and explain to the British people why you're lying to them?"

Watch: Video shows Chris Whitty being harassed and called 'liar' in the street

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