A man who was stopped by police while swimming in the River Thames early last Monday has admitted being stupid but denies he was planning a protest.
Jonathan Hope, 32, told Sky News he is nearing the end of a year-long charity swimming challenge, which involves him going for a swim every day all year.
The challenge has seen him in waters across different parts of the UK, but as it comes to an end in November, he wanted to do something special to “round it off”.
He decided “it would be fun” to swim from near Downing Street towards Windsor, enter the water near New Scotland Yard in the early hours of Monday and set off.
Mr Hope, who runs miso-making company Kultured, swam past the Palace of Westminster and floated towards Lambeth Bridge when he was met by flashing blue lights and police officers.
His swim – which lasted about 20 minutes – was just days before the Queen was due to lie in state at nearby Westminster Hall, and security in the area was even tighter than usual.
It was feared that Hope could have been planning a protest, with an unnamed source telling the Mail Online that he was “probably a member of a green protest group … on a reconnaissance mission to gather information to disrupt preparations” for Monday’s state. funeral.
But Mr Hope used a Go Pro camera attached to his head as he swam to post on his Instagram page as evidence of his progress in the charity challenge.
Mr Hope said: “This is not a protest, I’m just trying to swim for charity.
“I have to do this before the water gets too cold (in winter).”
He added: “The reason I was there at 2am was because the tide was high. It was very difficult to explain it to the police – I guess it looked very suspicious.
“You can call me foolish or naive, but I didn’t think there would be police there.”
Hope said he had been handcuffed and searched by police but was not charged and got off with a warning.
Speaking about the incident involving Mr Hope, Commissioner Com Cundy said it had been “nothing more than a man going for a charity swim”.
A spokeswoman for the force later confirmed that he was not arrested but was “advised of his proximity to a restricted area”.
Mr Hope admitted his partner was not impressed with his exploits, saying he has “a lot to think about”.
“It’s not how you want to start the week, really,” he said. “I felt kind of stupid.”
34 people arrested ahead of state funeral
However, 34 other people have been arrested ahead of the Queen’s funeral, according to the Metropolitan Police.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said the arrests were for a range of offences, but none had been to protest.
Mr Hope has raised more than £1,300 for his chosen charity Solidarity Sportswhich helps traumatized children recover with the help of the power of sport.