An anti-vaccine protester who accused Matt Hancock of murdering people during the coronavirus pandemic has been found guilty of harassment.
The former health secretary feared being pushed down an escalator by Geza Tarjanyi, 62, of Leyland, Lancashire, who shoulder-barged him and “shouted ridiculous conspiracy theories” on two separate occasions on 19 and 24 January.
Hancock said he was “relieved at the verdict”.
“We in the UK pride ourselves as a global symbol of democracy, built around respectful debate to build a more inclusive and harmonious society,” he said. “Violence against anyone for their political beliefs is unacceptable.
“I would like to thank the [Crown Prosecution Service], Transport for London and the British Transport Police who have been fantastic throughout.”
In the first incident, Hancock, along with a member of his staff, passed an anti-vaccination protest near parliament, before Tarjanyi filmed him, asked him why he had “killed so many people” and shoulder-barged him during a five-minute interaction.
Appearing in person as a witness in June, the MP told the court: “I felt physically intimidated and felt like I needed to get to a place of safety; he was being completely unreasonable.
“I didn’t know what further unreasonable actions he would take.”
Closing the case for the prosecution, Nutan Fatania said: “Mr Tarjanyi was following Mr Hancock. It was reckless of Mr Tarjanyi to be that close. He knew [his actions] would be distressing. Mr Hancock felt extremely intimidated. It was deeply upsetting and alarming.”
The second incident occurred at about 8am when Tarjanyi followed the MP through Westminster underground station and on to a train for about 10 minutes, again accusing him of murdering people.
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.
Hancock said he 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. I had to work to maintain my balance and stop myself falling down the escalator.”
Hancock feared Tarjanyi was willing to commit a crime, alleging the defendant had told him he “wanted to go to court”.
Tarjanyi then got on to a Jubilee Line train with Hancock and accused him of murdering “millions of people” before they were separated at Bond Street station.
The defendant’s mobile phone footage of the second incident, played to the court, showed him calling Hancock a “murderous scumbag” and saying lockdown amounted to the harassment of the UK because of Hancock’s “lies and deceit”.
Tarjanyi denied the charge of harassment without violence and described the claims as “laughable”.
Closing the defence case, Parveen Mansoor said: “As far as he is concerned, Mr Tarjanyi was there to ask questions. Mr Hancock did not ask police officers to help him.”
When asked if he followed Hancock, Tarjanyi repeatedly denied it and told the court he was “interviewing him”.
Tarjanyi was found guilty by the senior district judge Paul Goldspring.
Goldspring said: “The defendant’s behaviour was oppressive. He deliberately intimidated and harassed Mr Hancock. The defendant did bump into Mr Hancock, deliberately so. He wanted a day in court to question Mr Hancock.”
He ordered Tarjanyi not to approach or contact the MP for three years. Tarjanyi was also given an eight-week prison sentence suspended for two years and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £930 plus a surcharge of £128.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/aug/02/anti-vaxxer-guilty-of-harassing-matt-hancock-on-london-tube Anti-vaxxer guilty of harassing Matt Hancock on London tube | Matt Hancock