A world-renowned British scientist has come under fire after posting pictures on Twitter of an unsuspecting train passenger having a “banal chat” on her phone.
Labour peer and TV star Professor Robert Winston posted photos and made comments about the woman, who he said had been on the phone for an hour.
He has now said he is “contrite” after being attacked on social media by some users who felt it was an invasion of her privacy.
He was called an “internet bully” who “publicly shamed a stranger without their knowledge”.
Twitter user @Jjennyohare79 wrote: “Never post a pic of people. You don’t know what’s going on in her life for her to be talking for that long.”
Prof Winston replied: “May be you are right Jenny but she is in a public place and we can hear every word of one side of what seems an entirely banal chat.”
When he was accused by another Tweeter of being an internet bully, the scientist said: “Whatever I’m contrite – I’ve deleted the tweets but still rather feel that invasion of privacy can be a two way invasion.”
Others on Twitter have given their support to the 77-year-old professor, who is a leading fertility expert.
@lovesthathawk said: “I regularly travel on this service between London and Manc and you have my full sympathy. If it was up to me I’d make every coach a quiet coach with fines for those who break the rules!”
@matsteiner wrote: “Completely agree – adults should respect the rights of others including overly loud and inordinate conversation on public transport.”
@ditty1966 said: “I totally agree with you @ProfRWinston. Public transport is boring enough without listening to loud people phones. Not a bullying in my eyes…”
The row began when the peer began tweeting about the female passenger with images that had captions including: “This woman has been on this phone call for 30 minutes in a crowded carriage. We are not interested in her conversation.”
He added: “She’s now been on phone 40 minutes and having worn out one ear is now using the other one.”
He went on: “After 50 minutes she’s bored with the whole conversation.
“And so are we equally bored.”
The last picture he posted had the caption: ‘It’s now 60 minutes – she has a child with her. Why not talk to her child?”.