On January 7, 2019, journalists working near the Parliament building in London were repeatedly verbally harassed by supporters of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s impending withdrawal from the European Union, according to news reports and the journalists’ posts on social media.
A group of Brexit supporters harassed left-wing Guardian columnist Owen Jones, shouting pro-Brexit slogans and hurling abuse at him, calling him “traitor” after he was interviewed by the BBC outside the Houses of Parliament, the iNews website reported. Jones made a video of the incident which he shared on social media.
According to the Daily Mail, the demonstrators yelled misogynist remarks at Sky News reporter Kay Burley, and hurled racist abuse at Sky News political editor Faisal Islam. Burley tweeted that she requires a security escort as a result of the protesters, saying, “These people are not pro-Brexit. They are pro-intimidation.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed on January 8 to iNews that they had received a report of a possible public order offense concerning Jones, and were assessing if any crimes had been committed, but no arrests had been made.
Jones was a target of a similar incident on December 5, 2018, when protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump hurled homophobic abuse at him during and after an interview on Sky News, iNews reported.
Scotland Yard representatives said on January 8 that they had increased the number of police in the area and were “reviewing footage” of verbal attacks, the Daily Mail reported. According to a statement by the Metropolitan Police, officers have been “briefed to intervene where they hear or see breaches of the law.”
In a statement about policing around the area, Laurence Taylor, police operations deputy assistant commissioner, told the Press Gazette, “We will deal robustly with incidents of harassment and abuse against anyone where that harassment or abuse constitutes a criminal offence.”