| 19.1°C Belfast

Ofcom assessing David Icke coronavirus comments ‘as a priority’

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that Icke’s comments were ‘lunatic conspiracy theories’.

Close

Conspiracy theorist David Icke (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Conspiracy theorist David Icke (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Conspiracy theorist David Icke (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Ofcom has said it is assessing comments made by David Icke about coronavirus on a local TV station “as a priority”.

A spokeswoman for the media watchdog confirmed the move after Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urged the organisation to take action, saying that Icke’s comments amounted to “lunatic conspiracy theories”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “You are absolutely right, these are lunatic conspiracy theories and no sensible person would give them a moment’s thought.”

Close

The Culture Secretary had urged the watchdog to take action (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

The Culture Secretary had urged the watchdog to take action (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

PA

The Culture Secretary had urged the watchdog to take action (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Ofcom received 19 complaints about the programme, which was broadcast on Wednesday evening.

In an interview on London Live, conspiracy theorist Icke shared his unsubstantiated views on the causes behind the outbreak of Covid-19.

He added that mandatory vaccination for the virus would be “fascism”.

A London Live spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the Culture Secretary’s comments and have proactively contacted Ofcom to offer our cooperation and support as part of their assessment.

“We will continue to work closely with Ofcom throughout this process.”

An Ofcom spokesman said: “We are assessing this programme as a priority.”

Last week Ofcom ruled that a local radio station had breached its rules after one of its guests suggested the Covid-19 outbreak was caused by the rollout of 5G mobile technology.

Close

Ofcom ruled against a radio station over an interview about Covid-19 last week (Yui Mok/PA)

Ofcom ruled against a radio station over an interview about Covid-19 last week (Yui Mok/PA)

PA

Ofcom ruled against a radio station over an interview about Covid-19 last week (Yui Mok/PA)

A spokeswoman for the media watchdog said that the guest’s statements on Uckfield FM “were not sufficiently challenged” and could “undermine people’s trust in the advice of mainstream sources of information”.

The theory that 5G is linked to Covid-19 has been discredited by experts.

Professor Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said a connection between the technology and the virus would be “both a physical and biological impossibility”.

The Ofcom investigation into Icke’s comments comes after he said another of his videos was “banned” from YouTube.

Close

Icke is a former footballer and sports broadcaster (PA)

Icke is a former footballer and sports broadcaster (PA)

PA

Icke is a former footballer and sports broadcaster (PA)

On Wednesday night he claimed that the video, in which he reportedly said there is a link between 5G technology and coronavirus, had been viewed four million times.

A YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement that the platform is seeking to reduce “the spread of harmful misinformation”.

Any content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the World Health Organisation and local health authorities, is in violation of YouTube policiesYouTube spokeswoman

She added: “We have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us.

“Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the World Health Organisation and local health authorities, is in violation of YouTube policies.”

Icke has previously been invited onto chat shows by broadcasters including the BBC and ITV to discuss some of his conspiracy theories.

The former footballer and sports commentator’s other assertions include his claim that the world is run by reptiles and the royal family are lizards.

PA