The 77th Brigade Spied on Lockdown Sceptics, Including Me

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    by Toby Young, Daily Sceptic:

    A shadowy unit of the British Army, as well as secretive ‘disinformation’ agencies within Whitehall, spied on British citizens who challenged the Government’s pandemic response, including Peter Hitchens and me. These revelations are contained in a report by Big Brother Watch due to be published tomorrow, which includes the results of subject access and freedom of information requests submitted by me and others. The Mail on Sunday has more.

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    A shadowy Army unit secretly spied on British citizens who criticised the Government’s Covid lockdown policies, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

    Military operatives in the U.K.’s ‘information warfare’ brigade were part of a sinister operation that targeted politicians and high-profile journalists who raised doubts about the official pandemic response.

    They compiled dossiers on public figures such as ex-Minister David Davis, who questioned the modelling behind alarming death toll predictions, as well as journalists such as Peter Hitchens and Toby Young. Their dissenting views were then reported back to No. 10.

    Documents obtained by the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, and shared exclusively with this newspaper, exposed the work of Government cells such as the Counter Disinformation Unit, based in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office.

    But the most secretive is the MoD’s 77th Brigade, which deploys “non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of adversaries”.

    According to a whistleblower who worked for the brigade during the lockdowns, the unit strayed far beyond its remit of targeting foreign powers.

    They said that British citizens’ social media accounts were scrutinised – a sinister activity that the Ministry of Defence, in public, repeatedly denied doing.

    Papers show the outfits were tasked with countering “disinformation” and “harmful narratives… from purported experts”, with civil servants and artificial intelligence deployed to “scrape” social media for keywords such as “ventilators” that would have been of interest.

    The information was then used to orchestrate Government responses to criticisms of policies such as the stay-at-home order, when police were given power to issue fines and break up gatherings.

    It also allowed Ministers to push social media platforms to remove posts and promote Government-approved lines.

    How did the Government manage to convince these supposedly independent state agencies, with powers to monitor the activities of British citizens, that critics of its barmy lockdown policy were enemies of the state? And does this mean James Delingpole has been right all along? We will discuss tomorrow on London Calling and I’m going to write about it for this week’s Spectator.

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