Telecom engineers warned of razor blades hidden behind anti-5G posters

12 May 2020, 06:02

Engineers have faced an increase in abuse
Engineers have faced an increase in abuse. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Telecom engineers have been warned conspiracy theorists are hiding razor blades behind anti-5G posters on telegraph poles.

The warning comes amid a rise in attacks on engineers fueled by a conspiracy theory wrongly linking 5G and the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers for OpernReach 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.

An OpenReach spokeswoman told the Sun newspaper: "We've received reports from other telecommunications companies that anti-5G posters have started to appear on street equipment - particularly in London.

"On closer inspection, the posters have had razor blades and needles stuck on the back. Fortunately, none of our engineers have encountered these dangerous items, but we've given them guidance about what to do if they do find any."

OpenReach Engineer Aaron Ashton-Jones said he was driving to help a customer in Kent when he was stopped by a car.

The driver got out of his car and began shouting "all sorts of horrible words", Mr Ashton-Jones said.

"He said, 'you are spreading 5G, you are killing communities, you are the one who is spreading this virus'," The Sun reported.

Kent Police confirmed it was investigating an allegation that a man was verbally abused in Sittingbourne on 29 April.

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."

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