A man accused of assaulting Chris Whitty in a park in central London attended a court hearing via video link from his bedroom while wearing a dressing gown after saying he tested positive for coronavirus.
Jonathan Chew, 24, and real estate agent Lewis Hughes, 23, filmed themselves with England’s Chief Medical Officer walking through St. James’ Park in Westminster on June 27th.
The couple’s footage, which Whitty appeared to head into a headlock when they requested a selfie, went viral in the aftermath of the incident.
Chew, who denies common abuse, appeared on video-linked Tuesday from his bedroom in a dressing gown that slid down to reveal his bare chest in Westminster District Court. His lawyer Peter Fallen told the court that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Shortly before the hearing began, Fallen informed the court that he was withdrawing from the proceedings because he was “professionally embarrassed”.
“Unfortunately, I can no longer represent Mr. Chew for professional reasons,” he said in court.
Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring allowed the trial to continue after Chew said he was happy to proceed without representation.
“I, Mr. Jonathan Chew, do not want to be represented,” he said.
Prosecutor Daniel O’Donoghue questioned Chew’s positive Covid test results. He said the judicial police tried to investigate but the NHS refused to divulge confidential information to them.
When police went to Chew’s address to see if he was isolated, his brother’s friend opened the door and said he did not live there. She added that she did not know where he was and was not aware that he had Covid.
During the hearing, Chew grew increasingly upset and insisted that Whitty appear for the trial. “The law is that I have the right to have him come,” he told the court. “I want Chris Whitty with me.”
“I suppose I know a little more about the law than you do,” replied Goldspring, explaining that the law does not require Prof. Whitty to appear in court as the facts of the case have been agreed between the prosecutor and the defense.
But Chew replied: “You misunderstand everything. I was in court. I agreed that Chris Whitty must be in court.
“I feel innocent. I am responding to a charge of assault which I believe I did not. “
Goldspring replied, “A remarkable recovery, I could say, from where you were two minutes ago.”
However, Chew said he was “diagnosed with coronavirus,” adding to the judge, “Are you saying that coronavirus is not real now? I have a feeling that what you are doing now is making me a victim. You call me a liar. “
Goldspring said, “Your carefree approach to the severity of these procedures is breathtaking.”
“What does cavalier mean?” Chew interposed.
“Let me finish,” said Goldspring. “I am completely satisfied that you are not feeling so badly that you cannot take part in your study.”
However, Tuesday’s trial had to be canceled until January 4, 2022 because Chew was unable to see the CCTV evidence over the video link.
“There comes a point whether or not Mr. Chew can see [the CCTV]that the process will be a little farce, “said Goldspring.
By then, Chew has been tasked with finding new legal counsel and he must appear in person. He is free on bail and must remain at the address given.
Hughes admitted a joint attack in July and was sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for two years. He lost his job as a real estate agent after his employer saw the footage.