Ofcom is assessing yesterday’s edition of This Morning after presenter Eamonn Holmes commented on conspiracy theories linking the rollout of 5G mobile technology with the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
The broadcast regulator has received 419 complaints about Holmes’ comments and said it is assessing the programme as a priority.
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Holmes was responding to comments from fellow presenter Alice Beer that the false link between 5G and Covid-19, which has led to arson attacks on mobile masts in the UK, is “not true” and “incredibly stupid”.
He said: “I totally agree with everything you’re saying, 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.
“That’s all I would say as someone with an enquiring mind.”
Holmes responded to the backlash against his comments on today’s programme, saying that suggesting a connection between 5G and coronavirus “would be wrong and indeed it could be possibly dangerous”.
He went on: “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 are looking for answers, and that’s simply what I was trying 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.”
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We are assessing this programme in full as a priority.”
It is currently prioritising cases linked to coronavirus where broadcasts may have helped spread misinformation about the illness.
Last week Ofcom launched an investigation into London Live, the TV channel of Evening Standard and Independent owner Evgeny Lebedev, for airing an interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke.
It has also ruled that there were “serious failings” at a local radio station in Sussex after a guest’s comments suggesting the Covid-19 outbreak was caused by the rollout of 5G were not sufficiently challenged.
PA has spoken to a number of scientists who criticised Holmes’ comments, saying they could cause “untold damage”.
Prof Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the news agency: “I welcome enquiring minds, but this needs to be based on some fact and not pedalled as a conspiracy as this causes untold damage.”
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “The opinions of the mainstream media or the state hardly come into the debate – numerous doctors and scientists around the world have said that the disease is caused by a virus, something completely different to a mobile phone signal.”
ITV has been contacted for comment.