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More than 300 attacks on UK emergency workers prosecuted

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LONDON : More than 300 prosecutions were carried out for attacks on police and other emergency workers during the first month of the lockdown in Britain to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday.

The 313 attacks usually involved officers and emergency staff being coughed or spat at by people claiming to have the virus, while there were another 62 prosecutions involving assaults on shop workers, the CPS said.

"It is disgraceful that hard-working essential workers continue to be abused during a health emergency and I have warned repeatedly that anyone doing so faces serious criminal charges," said Mr Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions.

Mr Hill has warned that anyone coughing or spitting at emergency workers who said they had the coronavirus would face assault charges and possibly two years in jail.

On Sunday, police said they had quizzed a suspect over the death of a rail worker from Covid-19 after being spat at by a man who said he had the virus.

Britain announced the lockdown on March 23.

Its death tollrose by 338 to 36,042 yesterday .

In a separate development, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face a criminal investigation over claims that he channelled public funds towards a US businesswoman with whom he was suspected of having an affair, the police complaints body said yesterday.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said police would not be asked to investigate claims that Mr Johnson had used his position while he was mayor of London to "benefit and reward" Ms Jennifer Arcuri, but it did find "there may have been an intimate relationship".

There was also evidence to suggest that those responsible for handing out grants "thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making".

It concluded that Mr Johnson should have declared a conflict of interest but that not doing so did not amount to a potential criminal offence and was now a matter for the Greater London Authority.

Mr Johnson's Downing Street office said it welcomed "that this politically motivated complaint has been thrown out". - REUTERS, AFP