Michael Gove ambushed by anti-vax protesters as they push past police

Incident comes just days after killing of Southend West MP Sir David Amess

Holly Bancroft
Tuesday 19 October 2021 15:54
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Michael Gove ambushed by mob as police form shield around him

A ring of policemen had to protect Michael Gove from a mob of anti-vaxxer protesters on Tuesday after they started screaming abuse at him.

The minister for levelling up, housing and communities was walking through Westminster at lunch time when he was collared by a number of angry protesters.

The incident comes as politicians call for greater protection after Sir David Amess MP was stabbed to death at his constituency surgery.

One protester was able to get close to Mr Gove and shove a camera in his face before a number of police officers rushed to encircle the minister.

The protesters were part of a march with groups Official Voice and Resistance GB who are campaigning against lockdowns and the vaccine.

Police created a protective shield around Mr Gove and escorted him to a Home Office building, while trying to push angry anti-vaxxers away.

The mob yelled “arrest Michael Gove” as they tried to jostle closer to him. Other insults were yelled at him by the chasing protesters and at one point a piece of paper thrown at Mr Gove appeared to briefly hit his face.

The Metropolitan Police tweeted about the incident, saying: “We’re aware of a protest in Westminster today which is marching to a number of locations.

“During this protest, a group attempted to surround a Member of Parliament on Horseferry Road.

“Our officers were immediately on scene where they safely escorted him to a nearby building. There were no arrests.

“We know there is footage circulating online of this incident, we will review this and our officers’ body-worn video to see if any offences occurred.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds responded to the events by saying: “These scenes would be unacceptable at any time – but seeing them this week is utterly appalling.

“I trust Michael Gove is OK – and thank the police for their swift action.”

Brendan Cox, widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, tweeted: “These aren’t ‘freedom protesters’ they are trying to intimidate him for likes on social media.

“They chant ‘do your job’, while stopping him from getting back to work. This isn’t protest it’s pathetic.”

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “The harassment and intimidation of anyone going about their daily business is completely unacceptable. We would expect the police to take this kind of behaviour seriously.

“While peaceful protest remains an important cornerstone of our democracy, threatening, intimidating or abusive language cannot be tolerated.” The spokesperson declined to comment on security arrangements for ministers.

He added: “The approach we have taken, particularly on issues such as vaccination, is to provide clarity and information to provide reassurance to those that have legitimate questions.

“What is completely unacceptable is for those who disagree with our approach to try and target individuals, be they ministers or indeed schools or parents and children, that sort of behaviour is abhorrent and will never be tolerated in a democratic society.”

This week home secretary Priti Patel launched a review into MPs’ safety following the killing of Sir David Amess while he was carrying out routine work in his constituency.

She told Sky News that the government was considering multiple measures to safeguard MPs, including asking constituents to pre-book appointments with their elected representatives.

This article was amended on 20 October 2021. It previously said that the protest march was organised by Official Voice and GB Resistance. However, the name of the organisation is not GB Resistance but Resistance GB, and its spokespersons deny being involved in organising the protest.

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