Sajid Javid hits out at 'idiot' anti-vaxxers protesting outside schools

25 October 2021, 16:15 | Updated: 26 October 2021, 08:11

Sajid Javid accused anti-vaccine protestors of spreading "vicious lies"
Sajid Javid accused anti-vaccine protestors of spreading "vicious lies". Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The Health Secretary lashed out at "idiots" who mount anti-vaccine protests outside schools, after three children were injured in clashes.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

He said it was "heartbreaking" to see children being hurt and said anti-vaccine protests were becoming "a growing problem as time goes by."

He added: "If you've injured children, that is a criminal act and I hope in that case police are able to track those people down."

Read more: Boris Johnson says 'recycling plastic doesn't work' ahead of COP26

Read more: National Living Wage 'to be hiked to £9.50'

Downing Street said it was "never acceptable for anyone to pressurise or intimidate pupils, teachers or the wider school community".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Protesters engaging in this type of behaviour should immediately stop."

Home Secretary Priti Patel has made clear that police will have the "powers and resources they need" to deal with the issue, the spokesman added.

A&E nurse claims NHS mandate sowing division purposely

Labour has called for councils to be able to use exclusion orders to prevent harassment of staff and pupils by anti-vaxxers outside schools.

Public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) can be used to disperse people from a public area and have previously been used to move on protesters outside abortion clinics, or to allow police to confiscate alcohol in certain spaces.

But gaining permission to impose one takes time and significant consultation, and Labour is calling for an expedited process in cases of preventing harassment and intimidation of children outside schools as long as it is agreed to by the school, the leader of the local council, and the local police chief constable.

Mr Javid said those measures could be an option for dealing with the problem.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was "sickening" that those against vaccinations are demonstrating at school gates, and said they were spreading "dangerous misinformation".

Read more: Dozens of arrests as eco mob returns to block busy London road

Read more: Covid cases 'could rapidly drop next month even without Plan B'

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) revealed earlier this month that most of the schools surveyed by the union - 79 per cent - have been targeted by anti-vaxxers.

It comes after they said that, out of 526 responses from schools eligible for the Covid vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year olds, 13 per cent had reported seeing protestors immediately outside the school premises, and 20 per cent reported demonstrators in the local area.

And 18 schools said protesters had gained access and protested inside the school premises, with 20 saying they had received communications threatening physical harm to staff.

Javid's mandatory jab for NHS 'the right decision'

Most of the harassment by anti-vaxxers reported to ASCL had been through emails threatening legal action, though the union said staff had been threatened with physical harm while some protesters had gained access to school sites.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said there was "no place" for such protests outside schools.

"No child should be made to feel scared or intimidated on their journey to and from school," he said.

"Pupils have endured enough disruption to their education in recent months, so there is absolutely no place for angry protests outside school gates."

He added: "We would urge anti-vaccination campaigners to behave more responsibly and to carefully consider the impact their actions are having on children."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

JD Vance joked UK could become 'Islamist' under Labour

Trump's vice-president pick JD Vance joked UK could be 'first Islamist country to have nuclear weapons' under Labour

Britain's Prime Minister Keir Starmer hosts the first roundtable with regional UK mayors, along with Angela Rayner

Ministers pledge to give more powers to local areas, in 'devolution revolution'

Starmer has launched a defence review

Keir Starmer launches review of armed forces as he warns of 'dangerous and volatile world'

Annabel Croft and Graziano di Prima   at Strictly Come Dancing - The Live Tour. Utilita Arena. 18th January 2024.  Ref:LMK11-180124-001 Steve Bealing/Landmark Media

Strictly Come Dancing pro Graziano Di Prima 'flees the country' after being fired following claims of misconduct

Joe Biden has admitted that calling for Democrats to put Trump in a 'bullseye' was a mistake

Joe Biden admits it was a 'mistake' to urge Democrats to 'put Donald Trump in a bullseye' after assassination attempt

Jay Slater's mother Debbie Duncan is said to be 'demanding answers'

Jay Slater's mother 'demands answers' after human remains found just yards from teen's last known location

Trump has selected Vance as his running mate

Who is JD Vance, Donald Trump's pick for vice-president?

Donald Trump has selected JD Vance (right) as his running mate and would-be vice president

Donald Trump chooses senator JD Vance as running mate, as he is officially nominated as Republican candidate

Ralf Schumacher and David Schumacher at Hockenheimring on April 05, 2022

'I'm 100% behind you': Ralf Schumacher's son congratulates his father after he comes out as gay

David Lammy has called for a ceasefire on a trip to Israel

Foreign Secretary David Lammy reiterates call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire and hostage deal in Gaza

Hamza Alam

East Londoner who 'disguised himself as a librarian' while urging TikTok followers to kill Jewish people jailed for 4 years

The England fan is confident England can bring football home in the next four years.

England fan has ‘no regrets’ over doomed Euro ‘winners’ tattoo

Queen Camilla left in histerics as Jersey cows get frisky during royal visit while bemused King watches on

Queen Camilla left in hysterics as Jersey cows get frisky during royal visit while bemused King watches on

Home Secretary Yvette Cooper during a visit to Lewisham Police Station in south London.

Home Secretary to probe 'disgraceful' election intimidation, as Jo Cox's sister says UK politics 'not in a good place'

An FBI investigation discovered the influencer had forced women to work for her in poor conditions with no pay

Instagram influencer jailed for human trafficking and slavery

People shelter under umbrellas as the rain pounds down last week.

Return of the summer washout: UK braces for flooding and travel chaos as Met Office issues weather warnings