On Saturday, a crowd numbering in the thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest... well, quite a lot of things.
It was held under the banner of “Unite for Freedom”, which purported to object primarily to measures introduced by the UK government to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
A poster advertising the event insisted a second lockdown would be “devastating” and appealed to the public to “take a stand”, adding: “Working together we can WIN!”
It also hinted at a more conspiratorial world view, urging “no mandatory vaccines” and “no ‘new normal’”.
But for a true idea of what the event was really about it’s necessary to look at who organised it and who was on stage.
In the eyes of the law, at least, it was Piers Corbyn – brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who organised the event and landed himself in police custody with a fine of £10,000 for breaching newly introduced coronavirus legislation.
Speaking to HuffPost UK on Sunday, the 73-year-old climate change denier who set up controversial weather forecasting business Weather Action, said: “There was no justification whatsoever for this fine.
“The order for my arrest appears to have come from on high, nothing to do with local police. When I asked the police, they said to me it came from on high.”
Asked what he meant by “on high”, Corbyn said: “Well, who controls the Metropolitan Police? It was either the Greater London Authority or the government.”
There were also three groups listed on the promotional poster advertising the event.
Stand Up X
Stand Up X has a number of small regional Facebook pages and an Instagram account with 10,000 followers.
The group says it is “peacefully questioning the narrative” around lockdowns and cites economic concerns for resisting lockdowns and masks, which it describes as “illegal and disproportionate Covid-19 measures”.
A website also says “forced, coerced and mandated vaccinations violate the principles of the Nuremberg Code” and claims contact tracing is “the digital Gestapo”.
It also appears to embrace concerns about child-trafficking inherited from the American QAnon movement, a baseless conspiracy theory that has been deemed a domestic terrorist threat in the US.
Free People Alliance
The Free People Alliance insists it “was not created to further conspiracy theories or to argue about them” and its main campaign point is an open letter written to Boris Johnson.
The letter questions the science used by the government and claims testing procedures and statistics are flawed.
It adds: “We are all being led down a garden path.”
People who tested positive for the virus but later died due to unrelated causes were being identified as Covid-19 deaths.
But this doesn’t mean the number of deaths in England since the start of the pandemic has been inflated, for the simple reason that the anomaly is dwarfed by the undercounting in other areas.
Save Our Rights UK
Save Our Rights UK views the measures introduced by the UK government to fight the coronavirus pandemic as part of “a systematic oppression that has been going on for hundreds of years”.
Its stated goal is to “unite the people to take down the archaic and outdated parliamentary model and replace it with a new, radical truly democratic system”.
David Lawrence, a researcher at Hope Not Hate, said: “The bewildering array of conspiracy theory protest groups, campaigns and individuals that have emerged during lockdown appear increasingly willing to sideline differences in belief, and work together in opposition to an often ill-defined, imaginary enemy.
“At this stage these groups remain small and desperately crave media attention, and journalists must report cautiously, to avoid advertising events and spreading their message.
“At the same time, these loose movements are still in their infancy, and are likely to continue to gather momentum as Covid-19 measures continue, and the US election approaches.”
The march appears to have been funded by a crowdfunder which covered the costs of “mobile stage, sound equipment with base bins, very large mobile video screen, live link equipment”.
It asked for and received over £9,500.
Dolores Cahill is a professor at University College Dublin and has made controversial statements about the coronavirus pandemic that have led to her being disowned by a number of scientific institutions.
In an interview in May, she promised to “debunk the narrative” of the pandemic which is being used by politicians and the media “as a fear-mongering propaganda tool to try and take away rights from people and to make them more sick and to force vaccinations on us”.
Cahill has also claimed that extra vitamins could fight the disease, that lockdowns and masks were not necessary, and that those that recover from Covid-19 are “immune for life” despite no scientific evidence to show this is the case.
In June she was asked to resign from a leading EU scientific committee over her remarks.
Dr Andrew Kaufman
Kaufman is a “natural healing consultant” who rose to prominence recently in a viral video in which he claimed a vaccine against coronavirus would “genetically modify” humans.
In the video, he talks about how a future vaccine would provide a vessel to “inject genes” into humans, first by a procedure known as “electroporation”, in which an electric current “create[s] little holes in our cells that allow the DNA to go into our own cells” and then through the insertion of “foreign proteins that supposedly generate immunity”.
Kaufman concludes that the vaccine, like the results of biotechnology in agriculture, will make humans “genetically modified organisms”.
There is no scientific evidence for any of his claims.
Dr Eric Nepute
Despite calling himself Doctor Eric Nepute, Doctor Eric Nepute is – according to the official US medical database – not a doctor. He’s a chiropractor.
He has, however, claimed Schweppes tonic water is a cure for coronavirus as it contains quinine, which he says work in a “similar-ish” way to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
None has been proven to help fight coronavirus, particularly Schweppes tonic water.
Dr Iqbal Adil
Dr Adil is a consultant surgeon in the NHS who is currently under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) after posting videos to YouTube claiming coronavirus is a hoax and is being orchestrated by elites to control humanity.
A GMC spokesperson told the British Medical Journal: “The interim orders tribunal imposed an interim suspension on Dr Adil’s registration, following our referral, to protect patients and public confidence.
“This interim suspension remains in place while we consider concerns about Dr Adil’s fitness to practise.”
Dr Mikael Nordfors
A Swedish physician who has been investigated for malpractice a number of times. He is barred from practising medicine in Denmark.
Republican senator Scott Jensen
Jensen is currently under investigation for by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice after he claimed in April that he was being made to falsify death certificates to exaggerate the number of people dying from Covid-19.
He has also falsely suggested coronavirus is no worse than influenza.
Dr Sherri Tenpenny
Tenpenny is an osteopathic doctor and prominent American anti-vaxxer despite having no clinical qualifications in virology, immunology or public health.
She also advocates the power of prayer.
Shemirani describes herself as a “natural nurse in a toxic world” who is “spreading the word, not the disease”.
She was suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in July, after complaints she was spreading false information about coronavirus and about vaccines.
She has claimed there is “no evidence” coronavirus even exists and recently suggested without evidence that a prominent female pop star is part of a satanic child-trafficking ring.
Dr Kevin Corbett
According to his LinkdIn profile, Corbett trained as a nurse in the 1980s but has largely lectured since.
He has claimed there is no proof coronavirus exists and has written about “THE COVID-NAZIFICATION OF THE NHS”.
Corbett also recently tweeted about “NAZIFIED CHILD-ONLY BUSES” in response to an announcement from TfL that it would be putting on extra buses for schoolchildren this month.
Icke is infamous for a number of baseless claims, including:
- he was the son of God and that the world would end in 1997
- a “small Jewish clique” was responsible for both world wars and had “financed Hitler to power in 1933″
- an inter-dimensional race of reptilian beings called the Archons rule the earth
- the moon is actually an alien spaceship that controls human thought
Chico lost in the quarter finals of X-Factor in 2005.
He has no medical qualifications.