Man, 24, accused of assaulting Chris Whitty in a Westminster park appears in court via video on his bed in a dressing gown ‘with Covid’ – as his lawyer withdraws from case because he is ‘professionally embarrassed’
Jonathan Chew, 24, who denies common assault and obstructing police, demanded the chief medical officer be present at the hearing today after his own lawyer withdrew from the case because he was ‘professionally embarrassed’.
Chew and estate agent Lewis Hughes, 23, filmed themselves hounding Whitty when he walked through St James’ Park on June 27, appearing to put him in a headlock as they demanded a selfie.
Jonathan Chew (left, and right in the video with Whitty) appeared on a court videolink today lying on his bed in a dressing gown which revealed his bare chest as he claimed to have coronavirus
The duo filmed themselves hounding Whitty when he walked through St James’ Park on June 27
Hughes, who lost his job as an estate agent after his employer saw the footage, admitted common assault in July and was handed an eight-week jail term suspended for two years.
But Chew denied common assault and obstructing police after he allegedly gave his brother’s name to officers following the incident.
He appeared in court today live from his bedroom coughing occasionally and wearing a dressing gown which slipped down to reveal his bare chest.
His lawyer Peter Fallen told the court he had tested positive for coronavirus.
But Daniel O’Donoghue, prosecuting, questioned the Covid test results.
Before the trial began this afternoon, Mr Fallen told the court he was withdrawing from the case because he is ‘professionally embarrassed’.
Jonathan Chew, 24, pictured outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court in June, denied common assault and obstructing police
‘I am no longer able to continue to represent Mr Chew, I’m sorry to tell you, for professional reasons,’ he told the court.
‘You would probably like to be represented at your trial,’ said Senior District Judge Paul Goldspring,’ asked Chew.
‘It’s a tricky question that one,’ Chew responded.
He became increasingly exasperated during the hearing and insisted Professor Whitty should be at court.
‘The law is that I have the right for him to come,’ he demanded. ‘I want Chris Whitty there.’
‘I suspect I know a bit about the law than you do,’ Judge Goldspring responded, explaining that Professor Whitty does not legally have to attend court as the facts have been agreed between the prosecution and defence, meaning there is no reason for the defence to cross-examine Professor Whitty.
Chew’s case is that he was being playful and wanted a selfie with Professor Whitty for his mother.
Lewis Hughes, 23, (left, and right in the video) was fired from Caplen Estates Agents after the clip found its way to his boss
‘You’re getting it all wrong. I’ve been in court. I’ve agreed that Chris Whitty has to be in court,’ shouted Chew down the CVP link.
‘I feel like I’m innocent,’ he said. ‘I’m answering an assault charge which I don’t think I’ve done.’
Judge Goldspring said: ‘A remarkable recovery, I might say, from where you were two minutes ago.
‘You’re not listening to me,’ Chew said exasperatedly. ‘I’ve got diagnosed coronavirus. Are you saying corona is not real now? feel like what you’re doing now is victimising me. You’re calling me a liar.’
Judge Goldspring said calmly: ‘Your cavalier approach to the severity of these proceedings is breath-taking.’
‘What does cavalier mean,’ Chew interjected.
‘Let me finish,’ said Judge Goldspring. ‘I’m entirely satisfied that you’re not so unwell that you can’t participate in your trial.’
But the trial had to be vacated until 4 January 2022 because Chew was unable to see the CCTV evidence via the video link.
‘There does come a point, whether or not Mr Chew can or can’t see [the CCTV] that the proceedings become a bit of a farce,’ said Judge Goldspring.
Chew has been tasked with finding new legal representation before then and he must appear in person.
He is on conditional bail and must stay at the given address.
Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty is seen walking past the Department of Health and Social Care in London
Mr Fallen told the court in a preliminary hearing this morning that Chew tested positive for Covid about five days ago, meaning he was unable to attend court.
He said: ‘I’m not sure if it was a PCR test or a fuller test than that.
‘We were issued with two NHS logo documents that were then passed onto the Crown.
‘He certainly sounds unwell and is struggling with a normal sleep pattern as a result of it.’
Mr O’Donoghue questioned the veracity of the document and said that the police have been attempting to make enquiries but the NHS refused to share confidential information with them.
When police went to his address to see if he was isolating, his brother’s girlfriend answered the door and said he was not living there, she did not know where he was and was not aware that he had coronavirus.
Mr O’Donoghue said: ‘It does appear he’s in breach of bail conditions.’
‘The Crown is sceptical of the veracity of these documents,’ he added, especially since he produced a medical certificate at the last hearing saying he had tonsillitis.
After Judge Goldspring said Chew was well enough to continue with proceedings, the defendant sat upright and no longer appeared to be in bed.
‘I actually have got Corona. I’m ill. Very ill,’ said Chew. ‘I’m hot and sweating. I’m delirious.’
‘You’re the judge not me,’ he added.
‘That’s very kind of you to say Mr Chew,’ said Judge Goldspring.
Thank you,’ Chew replied.
Throughout the hearing Chew became increasingly agitated and stated everyone in the court was victimising him.
He said: ‘Is this the Freemasons? Is there someone leaning on my solicitor? Is it a conspiracy theory? This is sad.’
At one stage he could be seen leaving the room in his dressing gown.
‘Judge, I’m delusional right now,’ he repeated. ‘I feel like I’m going to faint and all that stuff, judge.’
Judge Goldspring decided to continue with the trial as Chew said he was happy to go forward without being represented.
‘Me, Mr Jonathan Chew, doesn’t want to be represented,’ he announced.
Daniel O’Donoghue, prosecuting said he was planning to show CCTV footage of the alleged assault during the trial but since he was on the video link Chew was unable to see it.
Judge Goldspring rose for 10 minutes while the court staff attempted to show Chew the footage via video link.
He began coughing and blowing his nose loudly, as he had done at the beginning of the hearing.
The technology would now allow Chew to see the footage, despite attempts by Mr O’Donoghue to stand on a chair holding his laptop up to a camera.
‘The reality is I don’t think we can properly have a trial in the practical circumstances we now have,’ said Judge Goldspring.
At this point, Chew kept bobbing in and out of view of the camera. The TV was on in the background with what looked like a music video on.
He said: ‘You should get legal advice and you should secure representation but let me make it clear to you that if you haven’t I’m afraid it’ll be tough because you’ve got plenty of time to do so.’
The judge added that it is not practical to have Professor Chris Whitty in court due to the current national crisis amid the Omicron wave.
After Judge Goldspring left the courtroom Chew exclaimed: ‘Woohoo ah’ before logging off of the video call.
Chew, who had allegedly attended an anti-vax rally in central London before the incident, also claims to suffer from ADHD and autism.
His mother Natasha Chew, from Barking, said he meant no harm by his behaviour and misread the situation.
Chew, of Chelmsford, Essex, will face trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 4 January 2022 for assault and obstructing a constable in execution of duty.