View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
June 29, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:25am

Man who called Newsnight journalist Nicholas Watt ‘traitor’ denies public order offence

By PA Media

A man who called Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt a “traitor” as the BBC journalist was chased near Downing Street has denied a public order offence.

Martin Hockridge (pictured), 57, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress on 14 June.

Crowds had gathered in Westminster to protest against the Government’s extension of coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks.

Dressed in black boots, dark jeans, and a camouflage military-style jacket, Hockridge spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and address before entering a not guilty plea to the single charge.

The court heard Hockridge, from Harpenden, in Hertfordshire, does not deny calling Watt a “traitor” and the journalist will not be called as a witness during a trial on 8 November.

His solicitor Gemma Motion said Hockridge denies the word was threatening, abusive or insulting or that it would be perceived to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Hockridge was arrested after footage shared on social media showed demonstrators confronting Watt near Richmond Terrace and Whitehall.

Content from our partners
MHP Group's 30 To Watch awards for young journalists open for entries
How PA Media is helping newspapers make the digital transition
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it

Watt, who was wearing a BBC lanyard, was forced to run through the mob beyond a line of police officers as people shouted at him.

Hockridge was released on conditional bail by District Judge Angus Hamilton ahead of the trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

A second man, Christopher Aitken, 62, from Brixton, has also been charged with a public order offence over the incident, and has been bailed to appear at the same court 22 July.

A BBC News spokesperson said following the incident: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable. All journalists should be able to carry out their work without intimidation or impediment.”

Picture: PA Wire/Stefan Rousseau

Topics in this article : ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network