Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers was yesterday arrested at a mass-gathering of Covid-19 conspiracy theorists who took to the streets of London to demonstrate against lockdown restrictions and vaccination programmes.
The former Labour leader’s older brother was filmed being taken away from Trafalgar Square by a gaggle of mask-wearing police officers who hauled him into a van.
It is the third time the decisive anti-lockdown figure has been arrested in just over three months. He was arrested on May 16 and May 30 while protesting in Hyde Park.
More than 10,000 anti-lockdown protesters who believe coronavirus is a hoax gathered for the ‘Unite for Freedom’ rally which started at noon in the capital on Saturday.
Demonstrators called for an ‘end to Government lies’ and the restoration of all freedoms as they marched past Downing Street towards the Houses of Parliament.
Met Police announced they arrested a 73-year-old man on suspicion of breaking the new coronavirus health protection regulations at Trafalgar Square. Met police did not release the name of the man, who remains in custody.
Onlookers flocked to social media to share pictures of Mr Corbyn being hauled into the back of a police van at the central-London tourist spot.
Pictures from the demonstration show Trafalgar Square almost full of protesters – none of whom are wearing masks – holding signs that brand the pandemic as a ‘hoax’. When full, the square holds up to 35,000 people.
Other signs claimed masks reduce immunity and likened the restrictions to ‘child torture’. One person held a homemade placard on which he had scrawled ‘no to mandatory vaccines.’
Mr Corbyn was arrested on May 16 after he used a megaphone to say ‘vaccination is not necessary’ and ‘5G towers will be installed everywhere’, adding: ‘5G enhances anyone who’s got illness from Covid, so they work together.’
There is no evidence to link 5G and Covid-19 and scientists fear that a rise in measles among children can be attributed in part to unfounded fears about vaccines.
He was then arrested again on May 30 at a protest in which he also spoke through a megaphone.
A 25-year-old man was arrested for a public order offence at the demonstration on Saturday. He was taken to a South London police station and remains in custody.
David Icke attended yesterday’s protest and urged police to ‘stop serving the psychopaths’ and join those protesting in a speech addressing the cheering crowd.
Video from the scene showed organisers label the Government ‘terrorists who are waging a war on the people of this country’.
One man says: ‘This is a political agenda to commit mass genocide on the population. That is their agenda.’
A poster advertising the event read: ‘Nothing is more important as time is very short – the Government are voting for a two-year extension of their emergency Covid-19 powers in September 2020.
‘The first six months was a disaster – this must not be allowed to continue! We have to take a stand.’
It lists its priorities as ‘no more lockdowns, no social distancing, no masks. No track and trace, no health passports. No mandatory vaccinations, no ‘new normal’. Restore all human rights that have been violated.’
The poster lists ‘top world class doctors and nurses speaking out with real truth on Covid-19 against GMC constraints’.
Sonia Poulton, who was part of the protest, shared a video to Twitter to urge people to attend.
She said: ‘People are coming today to make their voices heard against mandatory vaccinations, mandatory masks, mandatory anything really. No more lockdowns, no more second wave business’.
It is understood Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers and conspiracy theorist David Icke are in attendance.
Icke, who was scheduled to speak at 3pm outside the Houses of Parliament, hit headlines in May after he made controversial unproven claims about the virus on several internet platforms, including one that it is linked to the 5G mobile network.
Both YouTube and Facebook deleted his accounts citing violation of their respective policies in relation to disputing the existence of Covid-19.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Officers have today been out across London speaking with communities about the policing operation across the long weekend, and advising them of their responsibilities under the new legislation – Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No2) (England) Regulations 2020.
‘Where there were large gatherings of people, including a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, officers have continued to adopt the 4 E’s approach. Officers interacted with people and were explicit in explaining what the legislation means for both organisers, and those attending.
‘That if you attend a gathering of more than 30 people, you may be committing an offence, which is punishable by a fine. If you hold a gathering more than 30 people you might be committing an offence under new changes to the regulations. It is also an offence to encourage others to unlawfully participate in a large gathering.
‘We encouraged them to disperse the area, and the majority of people did so, at that stage.
‘Two arrests were made at Trafalgar Square. At 15:25hrs, a 73-year-old man on suspicion of breaking the new Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No2) (England) Regulations 2020. He remains in custody.
‘At 13:30hrs a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence. He was taken to a South London police station and remains in custody.
‘The investigation now continues to identify further individuals who may have breached the new regulations.’
It goes on to say: ‘If you attend a gathering of more than 30 persons, you may be committing an offence, which is punishable by a fine. If you hold a gathering over 30 persons you might be committing an offence under new changes to the Regulations. It is also an offence to encourage others to unlawfully participate in a large gathering.
‘It is your responsibility to check the position and ensure you are not committing an offence by being involved in a large gathering. We urge anyone arranging a gathering to inform your local police.
‘We all need to continue to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus.’
In April, Icke landed London Live with a sanction from regulator Ofcom after the outlet aired an interview with the former footballer.
In the interview, Icke aired unsubstantiated theories about the virus and suggested mandatory vaccination would be ‘fascism’.
Ofcom said it was ‘particularly concerned’ by Icke ‘casting doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus’.
‘These claims went largely unchallenged during the 80-minute interview and were made without the support of any scientific or other evidence.’
Speaking at the event, Icke accused the police present of enforcing fascism and subjecting the people to a psychopathic regime.
Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers is also a well-known conspiracy theorist who has spouted claims that the coronavirus is linked to 5G mobile networks.
In June, he faced charges for his part in a similar May demonstrations at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, involving 50 people which breached lockdown rules.
The Metropolitan Police have dedicated a large police presence to monitor the demonstration and have written an open letter to those organising protests this weekend.
It reads: ‘The MPS is aware that the coming bank holiday weekend may see a number of large gatherings in indoor or outdoor spaces.
‘The MPS strongly advises people not to attend any large gathering for the protection of yourselves and others. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic.’
It goes on to remind the public that it is their responsibility to ensure they are not committing an offence.
‘Please be advised that you may also be at risk of committing a criminal offence. Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2020 (as amended), no person may participate in a gathering which consists of more than 30 persons either indoors, on a vessel, or in a public outdoor place, unless certain exemptions apply.
‘ We all need to continue to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus.’
The demonstration is one of several taking place around the world under the Unite for Freedom banner.
Berlin police on Saturday disbanded a mass protest in the German capital against coronavirus curbs a few hours after it had begun after marchers failed to heed their orders to keep their distance and wear masks.
The protest came as infections rise across Europe, with similar protests during the day in Paris and elsewhere.
In Denmark, protesters take part in a demonstration against the use of face masks and other Covid-19 related restrictions near the Danish parliament building Christiansborg in Copenhagen.
Across Europe, countries including France, Spain and Italy continue to see increases in the number of coronavirus cases.
Yesterday France added 5,429 cases overnight, Government figures showed, marking the country’s largest single-day increase since April 14, and the third-largest daily rise since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile Italy, which had some of the lowest case totals in Europe after reopening its economy, registered 1,367 cases – its largest rise since May.
Spain registered another 7,296 cases, enough to push the country above the US – the world’s worst-affected nation – in number of cases per million inhabitants, based on a seven-day rolling average.
The latest figures show the pandemic has killed at least 842,000 people worldwide since surfacing in China late last year.
In the UK, more than 331,644 people have been infected and 41,486 people have lost their lives to the virus.
By Luke Andrews For Mailonline
Berlin police have broken up protests for failing to wear face masks and socially distance as up to 18,000 descend upon the German capital.
The demonstrators, who were calling for an end to coronavirus restrictions, flooded into the square in front of Brandenburg gate before marching down a main street.
They blew whistles and brandished placards declaring ‘Merkel must go’ and ‘stop the corona lies!’ as they called for a return to pre-lockdown life.
They were joined by hundreds thronging the streets in London, where they declared coronavirus was a ‘hoax’ invented to establish a ‘new world order’. And 200 more in Paris held an anti-mask rally alongside hundreds more in Berlin.
The angry march comes as Europe prepares to enforce lockdown restrictions to avoid a second wave, as the number of cases recorded kicks up to highs not seen since March.
Pictures show thousands angrily crowding onto the streets in Berlin to demand a reversal of the rules.
The city had banned the demonstration earlier in the week, but a German regional court overruled the decision.
As many as 3,000 police officers were deployed to disperse the protesters after they failed to wear masks and maintain social distancing, in breach of guidelines.
‘Unfortunately, we have no other option’, Berlin police said on Twitter, adding that they had failed to comply with the safety conditions of the march.
Many were dispersed peacefully, although there was conflict when a construction container was set on fire and some roads were briefly blocked.
Until now Germany has managed the coronavirus crisis better than many of its European counterparts, with rigorous testing helping to hold down infections and deaths.
But new daily infections have accelerated in recent weeks, as in much of the world. Germany recorded 1,571 new cases yesterday, the highest figure since 22 August, when 2,000 were declared.
On Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to keep up their guard against the virus.
‘This is a serious matter, as serious as it’s ever been, and you need to carry on taking it seriously,’ she said.
In London, several hundred demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square calling coronavirus a hoax and demanding an end to lockdown restrictions.
Many carried banners saying ‘Fake News’, or ‘Masks are Muzzles’ and rejecting any mandatory vaccination programmes.
The virus has killed more than 40,000 people in Britain.
Nationwide restrictions cannot be ruled out should England see a spike in coronavirus cases this winter, the Health Secretary has warned.
Matt Hancock also hinted that restrictions may not be eased over Christmas to avoid an ‘uptick’ in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Mr Hancock said countries in others parts of the world were already experiencing a second wave, adding it was ‘a very serious threat’.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said ‘draconian action’ could be needed if the public do not stick to social distancing rules, hinting the Government could take stronger action than local lockdowns.
It comes as SAGE – the Government’s advisory group on scientific emergencies – has estimated up to 81,000 people could die from Covid-19 this winter in the very worst case scenario.
The scientists warned the figure was ‘a scenario and not a prediction’ that under the worst possible conditions there could be 81,000 deaths from Covid in England and Wales. In that scenario the fatality rate would be 0.7%.
Carl Heneghan, from Oxford University, told the BBC that the model was ‘implausible’ and that it assumed that ‘we’ve learnt nothing from the first wave of this disease’.
The Government told the broadcaster that its plans were under constant review, and were driven by the latest scientific advice.
At the start of the outbreak it was forecast that up to 500,000 Britons could be killed by the virus, the current death toll stands at 41,486.
But Mr Hancock said the UK was managing to keep the number of new cases ‘flat’ through the test and trace system and local lockdowns.
Describing the worst-case scenario, he said the UK could be battling bad flu and a growth in coronavirus as people spend more time indoors.
He continued: ‘Cases go up again, and we have to use very extensive local lockdowns or take further national action.
‘We don’t rule that out, but we don’t want to see it.’
His comments come as local Covid-19 restrictions were eased in northern England, which will allow social gatherings between two homes from Wednesday in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood warned the public that stricter measures could be imposed.
He told Times Radio: ‘It’s an enduring emergency and until a vaccine turns up there is a national resolve, there is a responsibility, a duty of every individual… also the Government needs to keep the nation safe and that’s where Matt Hancock’s work comes in and then Rishi Sunak needs to make sure the economy is working.
‘If the nation, if individuals aren’t following the rules then ultimately… we cannot break the chain of spread and therefore draconian action is required to take place.
‘We’d prefer it to be local but absolutely, if that R-rating does go too high, this is a warning for every single listener: ensure that you do socially distance so we can actually contain it.
‘This is an enduring emergency, I repeat. Until there’s a vaccine this is the new normal that we’ve got to get used to.’
Mr Hancock told The Times a second wave could be ‘avoidable but it’s not easy’, with schools reopening next week presenting new challenges in stopping the spread of the virus.
In an interview with ITV News, Mr Hancock said: ‘We’re doing a huge amount of planning to make sure that the NHS is prepared and can cope to make sure that people can have as much freedom to enjoy Christmas, to enjoy winter, as possible.’
But when asked whether there will be special rules to allow more people to visit one another over Christmas, Mr Hancock suggested it could lead to a rise in the number of people catching the virus.
‘The danger of a rule like that is that it increases the spread of the disease,’ he said.
‘I mean, there are an awful lot of things I’d love to be able to do, but the risk of them is that we see an uptick in the disease.
‘Hence, we’ve had to take decisions that you wouldn’t ever want to.’
On vaccines, the Health Secretary said there is potential for it to be available this year, but that it is more likely next year.
He continued: ‘It’s a very difficult science, it’s thankfully one that our scientists are up to, and each sign at the moment is going well and going in the right direction.
‘But we don’t want to raise people’s hopes too much.’
The Government is responding to ‘an increase in anti-vax messages and anti-test messages’, he said, with a programme under way to tackle ‘these sorts of conspiracy theories’ which he branded as ‘wrong’.
When asked about the Government’s U-turns on a number of policies recently, Mr Hancock said he believed people would have been ‘really cross’ if they did not happen.
‘We’re dealing with a crisis that is entirely unprecedented,’ he responded.
‘We’re dealing with a disease that didn’t even exist, as far as we know, before December last year.
‘And so, we’re taking decisions guided by the science on it.
‘I think people would, what people would get really cross about, is if a Government refuse to change even if evidence came up that there was a better option.’
Meanwhile, BBC2’s Newsnight reported that a ‘reasonable worse case planning assumption’ presented to the Government said there could be up to 85,000 excess deaths directly attributed to Covid-19 between July and next March across the UK, with 81,000 in England and Wales.
The broadcaster said the figures were in a document signed off by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) for the Cabinet Office at the end of July.
The document stressed that the figures represent a scenario, not a prediction, and aim to help the NHS and local authorities prepare for the coming months, Newsnight said.
The report goes on to state that while other restrictions could be in place until March 2021, schools are likely to remain open across the country.
It also said the Government’s tracing, isolation and quarantine measures would only be 40 per cent effective in cutting the spread of Covid outside households, the BBC said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that schools were safe to attend as he encouraged every pupil to return to the classroom.
‘The evidence is overwhelming that it is in the interest of the wellbeing and the health of children, young people, pupils, to be back in school rather than missing out any more,’ he said.
‘So, it is the healthy, safe thing to do.’
It comes as more than one million people can again mix in different households from next week, after Covid-19 restrictions were eased in parts of northern England.
From Wednesday, social gatherings can take place between two homes in Bolton, Stockport, Trafford, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
The decision came after local political leaders submitted their recommendations to the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We brought in measures to protect people in these parts of northern England, and I want to thank residents who have worked so hard to get on top of this virus.
‘We’re seeing the positive results of our local approach, and are able to bring in increasingly targeted measures.
‘It is vital we can maintain this good progress.
‘I have every faith people across the country, especially in areas where we are seeing higher numbers of cases, will continue to play their part by following local rules, and self-isolating and requesting a free test as soon as they get any symptoms.’
Data showed coronavirus cases per 100,000 decreased during the week ending August 20 in Burnley from 52 to 24.6, in Bolton from 25.6 to 18.9, in Stockport from 23 to 15.1 and in Trafford from 27.1 to 17.8, said the Department of Health and Social Care.
The lifting of the measures in Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees excludes the Bradford city area, the Keighley town area, Halifax, Dewsbury and Batley.
Residents in Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside, Salford, Preston and Leicester will also still be banned from visiting others in their homes or gardens.
In addition, people in Oldham and parts of Blackburn and Pendle, where infection rates are the highest in the country, will still not be able to socialise with anyone outside their household anywhere.
Gary Hall, deputy chairman of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, which is leading the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, said: ‘If we continue on this path I am hopeful that all parts of Lancashire will have the remaining restrictions lifted soon, but this depends on people following the rules wherever they live in the county.’
Council leaders in Trafford told the Government at its now weekly review that restrictions should have been maintained, following advice from its own director of public health.
Andrew Western, Labour leader of Trafford Council, said: ‘It is apparent that for all of their claims of working in collaboration with local authorities, the Government has decided to overrule the council and lift restrictions in Trafford.
‘This action by Government makes a mockery of the claims of locally led decision-making and once again shows that local Government is being ignored in spite of being on the front line of this crisis.’
The latest rolling seven-day rate of new Covid-19 cases in Trafford up to August 25 was 25.3 people per 100,000, compared to 19.8 up to August 18.
Last week, Mr Hancock announced a more targeted approach to Covid-19 restrictions, in which the views of MPs would also be sought to gain ‘the maximum possible local consensus’.
He added this would allow local councils to focus resources on the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down.
However the Labour council leaders in West Yorkshire criticised that approach as ‘confusing’ and said the intervention of Tory backbench MPs ‘undermines council leadership’.