POLITICS
04/10/2015 15:51 BST | Updated 04/10/2015 15:59 BST

Huffington Post Reporter Owen Bennett Spat On At Conservative Party Conference

Huffington Post reporter Owen Bennett and Kate McCann, a senior Political Correspondent at The Telegraph, have been protected by police at the Conservative Party Conference after protesters spat at Bennett and yelled "scum" at both journalists.

The pair, who are among the media covering the conference in Manchester, say they had to be led away by police after a protester spat in Bennett's face and "hordes" of others surrounded them and said he "deserved it".

McCann said the pair were initially told to stay where they were as one police officer feared they would get "lynched" if they moved.

Police then escorted both journalists away from the "mob", Bennett tweeted.

McCann said her "heart is beating so hard I can see it through my dress."

Some 80,000 people are thought to be protesting against Tory austerity measured in Manchester today, with many wearing pig masks in reference to the allegations about David Cameron from an unnamed source in a book by Lord Ashcroft.

McCann tweeted that a man who allegedly spat at Bennett had been handcuffed by police, but protesters called out for the man to be released, shouting that the HuffPost reporter "deserved it".

Bennett claims that the protesters continued to abuse the journalists despite being told that they were members of the media who were reporting on the conference, rather than delegates.

He said he was angry and "a bit shaken" after the episode.

He told The Huffington Post UK: "No one - regardless of who they are or who they work for - deserves to be spat at when they are doing their job.

"It was disgusting and I have no idea why he did it.

"What was even more worrying were the protestors who surrounded me and Kate McCann from the Telegraph. Even when they were told we were journalists and nothing to do with the Conservative Party, people were telling me I still deserved to be spat on.

"This is a worrying development and it seems the abuse journalists receive online is now moving out and on to the streets.

"I really hope people stop and think about the way this is going."