Former health secretary Matt Hancock feared being pushed down an escalator by an anti-vaccination protester who accused him of murdering people during the coronavirus pandemic, he told a court.
Geza Tarjanyi, 62, of Leyland in Lancashire, who has denied causing harassment without violence, is accused of shoulder-barging the MP and shouting “ridiculous conspiracy theories” on two separate occasions on 19 and 24 January.
Mr Hancock told a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court: “As a public figure, I can’t recall a time when I felt as intimidated as this.”
Mr Hancock went on: “It made me feel unsafe going about my place of work, it made me feel frustrated that instead of engaging in a normal debate, someone was trying to intimidate me, I thought that was unacceptable.”
He added: “I had a pretty good impression he had been taken over by these ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
A few days later, at around 8am, after Mr Hancock had had breakfast with the Prime Minister, Tarjanyi followed the MP through Westminster underground station and onto a train for around 10 minutes, again accusing him of murdering people.
Mr Hancock said he recognised the defendant and felt “more intimidated” because he was on his own and tried to get Transport for London (TfL) staff to intervene.
But he told the court that Tarjanyi began harassing “anybody who was going to come to my aid” and continued following him through the station.
Mr Hancock said he then stopped at the top of an escalator to “resolve the situation” but felt the defendant pushing him towards it.
He said: “Obviously I was extremely worried at this time. If I had lost my balance at that point, I would have tumbled down the escalator.
“It’s a long escalator, I could see a long escalator moving away from me, and I was being pushed from behind.
“I had to work to maintain my balance and stop myself falling down the escalator.”
The former health secretary feared Tarjanyi was willing to commit a crime, alleging the defendant had told him he “wanted to go to court”.
He added: “One of the reasons I hadn’t reported the incident on 19 January was because I don’t want these people with these untrue beliefs to get further publicity from harassing me.”
Tarjanyi then got onto the Jubilee Line train with Mr Hancock and accused him of murdering “millions of people” before they were separated at Bond Street station.
Nutan Fatania, prosecuting, said: “Mr Hancock felt shaken up by both incidents and concerned for his personal safety.”
Parveen Mansoor, defending, said Tarjanyi denies any physical contact and believes it was Mr Hancock who “barged into him”.
She added: “He denies assaulting him in any way shape or form.”
Mr Hancock, 44, was health secretary when the coronavirus pandemic struck and was a key figure in the lockdown restrictions and vaccine rollout that followed.
He resigned after leaked CCTV images showed him kissing an adviser in his office, in breach of his own social-distancing guidance.
Mr Hancock later angered colleagues and constituents by flying to the Australian jungle to appear on I’m A Celebrity in November 2022.
Having been stripped of the Conservative whip over the appearance, he said he would not contest his West Suffolk seat at the next election when he would step down.
The trial continues.
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