Report: British Army Tracked, Monitored Lockdown Critics
UK coronavirus lockdown critics and sceptics were placed under government surveillance using the opaque resources of the country’s military, a report Sunday alleges.
The Mail on Sunday reports military operatives in the UK’s “information warfare” 77 Brigade drove the operation that targeted politicians and high-profile journalists who raised public doubts about the official pandemic response through their social media activities.
The report claims those being watched included public figures such as ex-Conservative Minister and army veteran David Davis, who questioned the modelling behind alarming death toll predictions, as well as journalists such as Peter Hitchens and Toby Young.
They were just three of the public figures who numbered amongst the tens of thousands who protested against the UK government’s lockdown policies.
Their dissenting views as openly expressed online through social media were then reported back to the government and No 10. The Mail further alleges:
Documents obtained by the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, and shared exclusively with this newspaper, exposed the work of Government cells such as the Counter Disinformation Unit, based in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office.
But the most secretive is the MoD’s 77th Brigade, which deploys ‘non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of adversaries’. According to a whistleblower who worked for the brigade during the lockdowns, the unit strayed far beyond its remit of targeting foreign powers.
They said that British citizens’ social media accounts were scrutinised – a sinister activity that the Ministry of Defence, in public, repeatedly denied doing.
The British Army whistleblower told the newspaper: “It is quite obvious that our activities resulted in the monitoring of the UK population… monitoring the social media posts of ordinary, scared people. These posts did not contain information that was untrue or co-ordinated – it was simply fear.”
Former Cabinet Minister Davis, a member of the Privy Council, told the outlet: “It’s outrageous that people questioning the Government’s policies were subject to covert surveillance” – and questioned the waste of public money.
Veteran journalist Hitchens questioned if he was “shadow-banned” on social media over his criticisms, with his views effectively censored by being pushed down in online search results.
He says the “most astonishing thing about the great Covid panic was how many attacks the state managed to make on basic freedoms without anyone much even caring, let alone protesting. ”
A Downing Street source responded by saying the units from 77 Brigade – which uses both regular and reserve troops – had scaled back their work significantly since the end of the lockdowns.