Police investigate 5G phone mast set on fire days after being put up

24 May 2020, 15:49

5G phone mast (file image)
5G phone mast (file image). Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Police have launched an investigation after a 5G phone mast was deliberately set on fire just days after it was put up.

The blaze was in Scarborough Drive, Derby at just before 02:00 on Sunday. Firefighters quickly tackled the incident.

A Derbyshire Police spokesman said: "We believe the fire was started deliberately and we are investigating."

Attacks on 5G masts have been fuelled by incorrect conspiracy theories linking 5G and coronavirus.

Earlier this month, a man was jailed for a deliberate arson attack on a mast in Liverpool.

Workers for OpenReach were warned to be careful after needles and blades were found concealed behind four protest signs.

The telecom company said there were 68 incidents of verbal and physical abuse since 1 April with 56 of the reported attacks linked to 5G opposition.

Engineers working on fixed broadband lines had wrongly been accused of installing the 5G network and causing both cancers and coronavirus.

Claims the wireless technology helps spread the virus have been condemned by scientists.

After a string of attacks on phone masts in April NHS England's Professor Steve Powis condemned the attacks, he said: "I'm absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted, that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency.

"It is absolute and utter rubbish."

Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove added: "That's just nonsense, dangerous nonsense as well."

Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said: "Conspiracy theorists are a public health danger who once read a Facebook page.

"Here, we also see similar groups of people keen to show their ignorance on a topic where they have no helpful expertise, nor any inclination to post useful public health messages."

"It beggars belief that some people should want to harm the very networks that are providing essential connectivity to the emergency services, the NHS, and rest of the country during this difficult lockdown period," said Vodafone's UK chief executive Nick Jeffery.

"It also makes me angry to learn that some people have been abusing our engineers as they go about their business.

"Online stories connecting the spread of coronavirus to 5G are utterly baseless. Please don't share them on social media, as fake news can have serious consequences."