Downing Street has condemned the “abhorrent” actions of anti-lockdown protesters who attempted to surround the cabinet minister Michael Gove as he walked through Westminster.
Police officers quickly moved in to protect the Levelling Up Secretary as demonstrators, some carrying video cameras, rushed towards him.
The incident on Tuesday came amid heightened concerns over the security of MPs following the fatal stabbing last week of Southend West MP Sir David Amess as he was meeting constituents.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the targeting of ministers in that way could not be tolerated in a democratic society and that the Government expected the police to take the matter seriously.
There were no arrests at the scene, but the Metropolitan Police said they were studying footage of the incident posted online and from officers’ body-worn cameras to determine if any offence had occurred.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the “harassment and intimidation” of anyone going about their daily business was completely unacceptable.
“We will 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 spokesman said.
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.
— Metropolitan Police Events (@MetPoliceEvents) October 19, 2021
“The approach we have taken, particularly on issues such as vaccination, is to provide clarity and information to provide reassurance to those who have legitimate questions.
“What is completely unacceptable is for those who disagree with our approach to try and target individuals, be they ministers or schools or parents and children.
“That sort of behaviour is abhorrent and will never be tolerated in a democratic society.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the actions of protesters were “just wrong”.
“Politicians should be able to go out without being intimidated or fearing for their safety,” he said.
In a statement posted online, the Met said it was aware of a protest in Westminster that had been marching to a number of locations.
“During this protest, a group attempted to surround a Member of Parliament on Horseferry Road,” the statement said.
“Our officers were immediately on scene, where they safely escorted him to a nearby building.”
Footage posted on social media showed Mr Gove, who was carrying a bag, a file and a drink, being asked by an officer where he was going.
He pointed down the street and officers then put themselves between the MP and protesters as they helped him to make his way into a nearby building.
Amid jostling as officers attempted to keep demonstrators back from the entrance, a man appeared to shout “Arrest Michael Gove”.
One protester who approached Mr Gove asked him how he justified “illegal lockdowns”.