AN ANTI-lockdown protester has denied "hounding" BBC journalist Nicholas Watt near Downing Street.
Martin Hockridge, 57, appeared in court today after he was charged with a public order offence for using threatening, abusive or insulting words towards another person with the intention to cause distress.
Heavily tattooed Hockridge appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court wearing a blue T-shirt, Levi jeans, and black Doc Martens boots, speaking to confirm his name and deny the charge.
Gemma Motion, defending Hockridge, said: "Mr Hockridge denies it (traitor) was a threatening or abusive word to use and he denies that it could be used to cause alarm or distress, that is why we ask to call Nicholas Watt to court.
"He has no knowledge that his words would be perceived in that way."
Hockridge, from Harpenden, can allegedly be seen in the footage screaming in the face of Mr Watt, calling him a “traitor” as he and the group of protesters chased him into Downing Street.
Mr Watt was first captured on video walking quickly through Whitehall near police in high-vis jackets on June 15.
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."
Hockridge was identified after the footage went viral when it was posted on social media.
Earlier this month, The Sun Online revealed the brazen campaigner posted on social media that he stood by his actions that day before accusing the Newsnight's political editor of “engineering” the incident.
He went on to write “this man is a ‘traitor’ for promoting lies” and called Boris Johnson a liar after he slammed the actions of the protesters.
Responding to the Prime Ministers tweet he said Mr Watt “deserved the verbal statements and questions” from the baying mob.
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.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed on June 22 that a second man was arrested on suspicion of an offence contrary to Section 4A of the Public Order Act.
Christopher Aitken, 62, of Brixton, has also been charged with the same offence under the Public Order Act and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 22 July.
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