THE political editor of BBC's Newnight was chased into Downing Street by anti-lockdown campaigners as a protest through central London turned ugly yesterday.
Nicholas Watt was surrounded by a baying mob who called him a "c***" and blocked his path as he tried to escape.
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He was first captured on video walking quickly through Whitehall near police in high-vis jackets.
In the footage, the journalist – who wore a blue BBC lanyard around his neck – was then followed closely by a man wearing a leather waistcoat and a blonde woman in a minidress who pointed their fingers at him.
Mr Watt, who wore a blue face mask, then turned to escape their path – only for a crowd of around 15 to chase him across a road.
But more quickly followed – and the campaigners turned nasty, chanting abuse at him as he kept his head down.
One man in a navy jacket then grabbed Mr Watt by the shoulder as he recorded the incident with his mobile phone.
Others shouted at him: "Why have you lied?"
The reporter was finally forced to run away as the crowd pressed in and began booing.
He returned to the line of cops – and pushed through a barrier into Downing Street to escape as protesters shouted: "Shame on you."
Video of the incident was uploaded to social media.
One Twitter user said: "Just watched some coverage of anti-lockdown protests in London and a BBC employee almost got lynched.
"Had to literally flee back into Downing Street as crowds turned on him.
A spokesman for BBC News said: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable.
"All journalists should be able to carry out their work without intimidation or impediment.”
BBC newsdesk duty editor Neil Henderson tweeted the video, commenting: “A BBC Correspondent doing his job in Whitehall yesterday. Where does this end?”
Fellow BBC journalist Allie Hodgkins-Brown slammed the mob, writing on Twitter: “This is awful. In Central London 2021. Disagree with us fine. Switch us off fine but no journalist deserves this.”
Stefan Simanowitz added: “Disturbing footage of BBC Newsnight’s Nick Watt, being pursued by anti-lockdown protesters
“@umairh wrote recently ‘Britain — the gentle, wise, intelligent, expansive one — was put to the torch. It became a nation afflicted by a fever dream of nationalism’.”
The shocking incident happened hours before Boris Johnson announced a delay to 'freedom day' last night.
He made the decision to delay unlocking after experts predicted 50,000 people could die during a third wave this summer.
And last night, he told Brits in an uncharacteristically sombre address that we must learn to live alongside the virus – as it will NEVER disappear.
Sage documents reveal that a summer wave of infections, hospitalisations and deaths is “likely” – whether or not restrictions are lifted.
And scientists have warned the potential peak death rate could be reduced from 700 to 500 a day if the final stage in unlocking is delayed.
The paper is just one projection – and may never be realised.
The PM said he's "confident" the UK can end lockdown altogether by July 19, and possibly earlier if cases drop.
But he warned: "As we've always known, and as the February roadmap predicted, this opening up has inevitably been accompanied by more infections and more hospitalisations, because we must be clear we cannot simply eliminate Covid.
"We must learn to live with it.
"With every day that goes by, we are better protected by vaccinations and better able to live with the disease."
The month-long delay means pubs will be restricted to table service, while theatres and cinemas will continue to be capped at just 50 per cent capacity.
People will be told to continue working from home if they can and nightclubs will remain closed.
Gigs will also take a hit, as the current rules allow for capacity limits of 50 per cent – or a maximum of 1,000 people – indoors.
Outdoor gatherings will remain limited to 30 people, meaning summer BBQs and picnics in the park will have to stay small.
The rule of six will also remain in place for indoor meet-ups, while face masks and social distancing will continue to be enforced.
However, the traditional big white wedding is finally back on the cards, with caps lifted on a strict 30-guest limit.
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