The BBC have condemned the actions of protesters after footage emerged of political editor Nick Watt being abused in London.

The face of Newsnight, Watt, was surrounded by demonstrators near Downing Street who became abusive and chased him through the streets until he passed a line of police.

Mr Watt, who was wearing a BBC lanyard, was forced to run through the mob beyond a line of police officers as people shouted “traitor” and other slurs at him.

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

Now the BBC Director-General Tim Davie has spoken out about the abuse received by the BBC journalist.

He said: “The safety of journalists is fundamental to any democracy – they must be able to report unhindered, free from abuse.

“There is absolutely no justification for any journalist to be treated in this way.”

It follows Boris Johnson’s statement on the “disgraceful” scenes.

The Prime Minister tweeted: “Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job. The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour – they are the lifeblood of our democracy.”

His Cabinet colleague, Home Secretary Priti Patel Patel tweeted: “The video of @BBCNewsnight’s Nick Watt being abused by a mob is appalling and distressing.

“This behaviour is never acceptable.”

She added: “The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy.

“This month the Government launched a consultation to better understand the nature & volume of threats and abuse against journalists who are operating in the UK.”

Jo Stevens, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, said: “This extremely disturbing footage showing clear intimidation of a journalist while carrying out his job is absolutely unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms.

“It is shocking that a BBC lanyard makes someone a target like this.”

The Metropolitan Police said an investigation had been launched after a “number of possible offences” had been identified in the footage.

The force said in a statement: “We are aware of a video that has been shared online which shows a journalist being aggressively confronted and chased by a group of protesters in the vicinity of Whitehall on Monday June 14.

“The behaviour shown in the video is unacceptable. Members of the public, of any profession, have the right to go about their day without being subjected to verbal harassment or actions that put them in fear for their safety.”

After some online suggested officers should have intervened in the incident, the force said: “In this instance, while officers were nearby as part of the policing response to the ongoing protest, they were not in the immediate vicinity of the incident.

“It was not clear at the time exactly what had taken place but after reviewing the video footage, a number of possible offences have been identified and an investigation has been launched.”