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Rainham mother’s shock as councillor dismisses coronavirus pandemic as ‘fear porn’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 August 2020

A Rainham mother has filed a formal complaint with Havering Council after a politician emailed her dismissing the coronavirus pandemic as 'fear porn'.

A Rainham mother has filed a formal complaint with Havering Council after a politician emailed her dismissing the coronavirus pandemic as 'fear porn'.

Archant

A Rainham mother has made a formal complaint about a Havering councillor, claiming he sent her coronavirus conspiracy theories in response to her concerns about schools reopening.

The full email David Durant sent to a mother whose children are at high risk from covid-19 due to medical problems.The full email David Durant sent to a mother whose children are at high risk from covid-19 due to medical problems.

Stacey McCann, 33, said she was left “stunned” by an email she received from independent councillor David Durant.

She had emailed local councillors to voice concerns over plans to fine parents who did not send their children back to school in September.

She described herself and her children as “vulnerable” to Covid-19, due to medical conditions, and said she believed the fines would punish parents for protecting their children.

Cllr Durant replied that he supported reopening schools because government had “vastly inflated the seriousness” of the pandemic and had “promoted ongoing fear porn that has terrorised the public”.

Independent councillor David Durant claimed he did not believe the coronavirus death toll and alleged that four times more people had been killed by the lockdown - which a doctor dismissed. Picture: Archant.Independent councillor David Durant claimed he did not believe the coronavirus death toll and alleged that four times more people had been killed by the lockdown - which a doctor dismissed. Picture: Archant.

Stacey said: “I had to double-check who I had got the email from and make sure I had read it properly... It’s so radically off-kilter compared to the question that was actually posed to him – the aggressive tone, the phrase ‘fear porn’, the gaslighting.”

Stacey said she was also concerned that Cllr Durant included an internet link to a campaign called Keep Britain Free, which opposes coronavirus safety measures such as the lockdown and quarantine periods.

The campaign was founded by a Monaco-based businessman who, according to the Sunday Times rich list, is worth £200m, but uses the campaign website to solicit donations towards a judicial review of the lockdown.

Some of the movement’s supporters have claimed the virus is an “orchestrated lie” so that the public can be “poisoned” with a vaccine.

Hornchurch GP Dr Ben Molyneux was shown Cllr Durant's comments without being told who had made them. He described them as 'dangerous and factually inaccurate'. Picture: Dr Ben MolyneuxHornchurch GP Dr Ben Molyneux was shown Cllr Durant's comments without being told who had made them. He described them as 'dangerous and factually inaccurate'. Picture: Dr Ben Molyneux

One Keep Britain Free protest organiser said in an interview last month: “Whatever it is that the government is doing, it isn’t about a virus and it isn’t about protecting the population and they are deliberately, it seems, destroying the economy.”

Stacey has formally complained to the council’s legal officer who will decide if Cllr Durant should face any action.

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Questioned about the email, Cllr Durant said he stood by its contents but that the tone may have been “blunt” because he believed Stacey had been part of a lobbying group.

Jason Frost, Havering Council's cabinet member for health, said Cllr Durant's comments were 'at best bizarre, at worst frankly irresponsible'.Jason Frost, Havering Council's cabinet member for health, said Cllr Durant's comments were 'at best bizarre, at worst frankly irresponsible'.

He said: “I was responding to a wider campaign which I disagree with. If it’s deemed as being a bit aggressive, I would say, well, perhaps because the schools have been closed for too long – and someone asking me to argue in favour of keeping them closed, I just think is harmful to the children.”

He told the Recorder that he believed the coronavirus death toll was wrong.

He claimed coronavirus was “in many respects, a milder illness” than flu. Saying coronavirus was more like a common cold, Cllr Durant claimed that many coronavirus patients had been misdiagnosed by hospitals and killed by ventilators.

Hornchurch GP Dr Ben Molyneux said: “This is separate medical factoids being added up to wrongly create an incorrect statement... Ventilators are a life-saving intervention for those people who have become so weak that they cannot breathe sufficiently well anymore.”

Cllr Durant also criticised the lockdown, saying: “I don’t even believe it’s saved any lives. It’s cost lives.”

He claimed that four times as many people had been killed by the lockdown as by coronavirus – which Dr Molyneux described as “a dangerous statement and factually inaccurate”.

Cllr Durant also questioned the care home death toll, saying staff had been “terrorised about the virus”, which meant that “a lot of people in the care homes suffered due to neglect. They weren’t being fed and watered... Family weren’t allowed in. So in fact, probably, they died of despair, many of them, ultimately.”

Dr Molyneux described this as “very unlikely”, adding that “their health needs will have continued to be met by their GP and community nursing team”.

Jason Frost, Havering Council’s Conservative cabinet member for health, said he considered Cllr Durant’s comments to be, “bizarre at best and frankly irresponsible at worst, given his position as a community leader”.

He urged residents not to believe coronavirus claims on social media.

The monitoring officer must now decide whether Cllr Durant should be investigated or punished for alleged breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct.


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