protester has labelled Matt Hancock’s claims that he barged and harassed him at a London Underground station as “laughable”.
Geza Tarjanyi, 62, of Leyland in Lancashire, is accused of shoulder-barging the MP and shouting “ridiculous conspiracy theories” on January 19 and 24. He denies causing harassment without violence.
It is claimed that on the first occasion, Mr Hancock and 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.
Tarjanyi, appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, denied those claims and told the court: “I was against the wall, I couldn’t go any further. I was against the wall when he walked into me.
Two times he put his arm into me. Does he do the same thing with any other journalist?
“He walked into me, I can’t say he barged into me, he just walked into me. I wouldn’t see that as assault.”
He described Mr Hancock’s claims as “laughable”.
It is also alleged that at around 8am on January 24, after Mr Hancock had had breakfast with the Prime Minister, Tarjanyi followed the MP through Westminster Underground station and on to a train for around 10 minutes, accusing him of murdering people.
Mr Hancock previously 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.
Parveen Mansoor, defending, questioned Tarjanyi – wearing a black polo shirt and green jacket – about whether he harassed the former I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! contestant.
He replied: “I absolutely did not.”
Tarjanyi later called the claims by Mr Hancock as “lies”.
Nutan Fatania, prosecuting, asked Tarjanyi: “Do you agree that you despise Matt Hancock for what he stood for?”
Tarjanyi replied: “Absolutely not.”
Tarjanyi boarded a Jubilee line train with Mr 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 Mr Hancock a “murderous scumbag” and saying lockdown amounted to harassment of the country due to his “lies and deceit”.
Asked by the prosecution if he followed Mr Hancock, he repeatedly denied it and told the court he was “interviewing him”.
He continued: “Two times. Two times he put his arm into me. Does he do the same thing with any other journalist?”
When it was suggested he shouted at the MP, Tarjanyi told the court: “I was at the back end of having laryngitis so I couldn’t even shout.”
Referencing the video of the incident posted by Tarjanyi from June 24 – which shows him calling Mr Hancock a “son of a bitch”, “murderer” and “bastard” as the pair get on the Tube train – Ms Fatania claimed it was an attempt to gain “exposure after harassing Matt Hancock”.
The defendant responded: “Absolutely not.”
I was trying to expose Matt Hancock as a liar and a murderer
Discussing the moment a TfL member of staff asked Tarjanyi to stop while speaking to Mr Hancock, Ms Fatania said: “You repeatedly tell her to shut up in a belittling and demeaning manner.”
The defendant replied: “I was trying to talk to Matt Hancock, I was asking her to stop talking and jabbering.”
Ms Fatania asked: “So you don’t think it was demeaning?”
He replied: “I was trying to expose Matt Hancock as a liar and a murderer.”
Ms Fatania said: “Your behaviour was the opposite of calm and rational.”
He replied: “I was calm the whole way through.”
Asked if he shouted on the Tube train, he said: “I can demonstrate in this courtroom of what shouting is and you will be able to clearly see the difference between that and what I did on the train.”
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.
He later angered colleagues and constituents by flying to the Australian jungle to appear on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in November last year.
Having been stripped of the Conservative whip over the appearance, he said he would not contest his West Suffolk seat at the next election.
The trial continues.