LONDON: A female shopper who was charged with common assault after spitting at a security guard at London’s high-end department store, Harrods, is Yusra Elmzouri, 20, of west London, Arab News can reveal.
A Metropolitan Police statement given to Arab News confirmed the assailant, who is believed to be of Arab origin, was arrested on Thursday and charged on Friday.
She was bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 2, the statement added.
A video surfaced online showing Elmzouri appearing to spit at a Harrods security officer before being chased and taken down outside the famous London department store.
The dramatic footage posted on social media showed a group of three women, who had been asked by security to leave the store for not wearing face masks, which are currently mandatory in all indoor public spaces in England, unless medically exempt under UK law, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The video was filmed by a passerby outside the store and begins with the guards escorting a visibly angry group of women out of the store onto the street, during which one of the women appears to kick one of the security guards.
It then shows a scuffle breaking out between the women and up to a dozen security personnel, who block them from re-entering the store.
As the scuffle escalates, with security guards pushing the women away from the store entrance, one of the women jumps on the back of a bystander and spits in the face of one of the guards.
She then runs away and attempts to cross a nearby road, while the guard she spat at chases her, followed by other security officers.
She is caught, and then dragged to the floor in the middle of busy traffic and roughly held down by the guards.
Harrods is owned by the Qatar Investment Authority and is a popular destination for Arab tourists visiting the British capital, especially during the summer months.
“Harrods security was called following complaints of a group behaving aggressively within the store,” a Harrods statement sent to Arab News said. “Our security team is trained to protect those inside the store against any behaviour that may put our customers and employees at risk.
“When security attempted to remove the individuals, they resisted with force and reacted with extremely aggressive behaviour, which included spitting at a security officer.
“One of the individuals was later arrested and detained at the scene,” the spokesperson added.
Under UK law, spitting at a person deliberately constitutes an offense of assault.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, England and Wales’ Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill said anyone using COVID-19 to threaten emergency and essential workers, including through spitting and coughing, would face criminal charges.
Several people in the UK were jailed last year after being charged with spitting at supermarket workers, members of the ambulance service and police officers.