Met Police assistant commissioner warns Covid-19 conspiracies cost lives

18 November 2020, 12:51

Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has told LBC that people spreading conspiracy theories online are putting lives at risk.

When asked whether he supports the idea of banning the posting of anti-vaxxer material online, Neil Basu said there "is a debate for society" about free speech and how people can misuse that right.

"There is a debate for society to had about free speech and responsibility and people who are spreading misinformation that could cost people's lives," he said.

Read more: Online radicalisation has worsened during Covid pandemic, counter-terror chief tells LBC

Mr Basu compared the problem to his work in counter-terrorism, where "those kind of conspiracy theories" are damaging to society.

"There should be a debate about whether it is the correct thing for this society to allow to happen," he added.

Nick Ferrari grilled Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu on Covid-19 policing
Nick Ferrari grilled Met assistant commissioner Neil Basu on Covid-19 policing. Picture: LBC

In his interview with Nick Ferrari, the assistant commissioner praised efforts of police forces across the UK in dealing with coronavirus rulebreakers.

"I think we've done it very well if i might say so on behalf of chiefs," he said.

Nick highlighted the moment when 30 police officers stormed a gym in east London which was open illegally during lockdown.

"What an earth were they expecting? Al-Qaeda?" he asked.

Read more: Top counter-terror cop on release of 100s of convicted terrorists from prison

Mr Basu replied: "The engagement and explanation of what needs to happen to keep people safe, which is actually about saving people's lives, was incredibly important enforcement that has only taken place in the most egregious circumstances.

"Reinforcement should take place where people are not obeying the rules, but people have responded and have largely complied and that is a great thing."

He added: "British policing has always been based on the trust and confidence of public consent and that we're really proud of."