James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Twenty more suspected phone mast attacks over Easter weekend
14 April 2020, 19:45
A further 20 phone masts were attacked over the Easter weekend despite experts dismissing conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus as "utter rubbish."
One of the masts targeted over the Bank Holiday provides mobile connectivity to the Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham, which was established to tackle coronavirus.
Vodafone chief executive Nick Jeffery said he was "deeply disappointed" to hear people were still attacking the structures, adding that it was preventing people affected by Covid-19 from saying goodbye to their families.
"Burning down masts means damaging important national infrastructure," he explained.
"In practice, this means families not being able to say a final goodbye to their loved ones; hard-working doctors, nurses, and police officers not being able to phone their kids, partners or parents for a comforting chat."
Elsewhere, two 19-year-old men and an 18-year-old man were all arrested on suspicion of arson following an alleged attack on a mast in Dagenham.
West Yorkshire Police are also working with the fire service to figure out the source of a mast fire in Huddersfield which destroyed equipment belonging to three mobile network providers, one of which is used by the emergency services.
It comes after Eamonn Holmes was forced to clarify comments he made on ITV's This Morning over a 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory after the broadcast watchdog Ofcom received 419 complaints.
Mobile UK, the trade body which represents all network providers, said "careless talk could cause untold damage" to the country's communication network.
On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police was also called to a telecoms mast fire on Becontree Avenue in Dagenham at 1:34am.
Residential properties were temporarily evacuated as a precaution but people have since been allowed to return home after the fire was extinguished.
It is unclear whether the above incidents involved 5G masts or older technology.
Professor Steve Powis, national medical director of NHS England, previously described theories linking 5G to the spread of Covid-19 as the "worst kind of fake news."
A spokesman for Mobile UK, which reported the 20 suspected arson attacks, said: "Theories being spread about 5G are baseless and are not grounded in credible scientific theory.
"Mobile operators are dedicated to keeping the UK connected, and careless talk could cause untold damage.
"Continuing attacks on mobile infrastructure risks lives and at this challenging time the UK's critical sectors must be able to focus all their efforts fighting this pandemic."
On Monday, 60-year-old Holmes stepped in after presenter Alice Beer branded the conspiracy theories "ridiculous" and "incredibly stupid."
"I totally agree with everything you are saying," he told Beer, "but what I don't accept is mainstream media immediately slapping that down as not true when they don't know it's not true.
"No-one should attack or damage or do anything like that but it's very easy to say it is not true because it suits the state narrative."
The presenter added: "That's all I would say, as someone with an inquiring mind."
He tried to "clarify" his comments on Tuesday, saying: "Every theory relating to such a connection has been proven to be false and we would like to emphasise that.
"However, many people are rightly concerned and looking for answers and that's simply what I was trying to do, to impart yesterday.
"But for the avoidance of any doubt, I want to make it clear there's no scientific evidence to substantiate any of those 5G theories. I hope that clears that up now."