RAF intelligence officers joined a shadowy Whitehall operation accused of spying on members of the general public who criticised Covid lockdown insurance policies, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Official army paperwork obtained by this newspaper present that analysts from RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire helped to scour social media posts by the general public.
The MoS revealed in January how the Military’s secretive ‘info warfare brigade’ was tasked with scrutinising on-line posts – an exercise the Ministry of Defence, in public, repeatedly denied doing.
Now this newspaper can present that the army’s help to Authorities cells, such because the Counter Disinformation Unit, based mostly within the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport, and Fast Response Unit within the Cupboard Workplace was way more in depth than beforehand thought.
Dossiers have been compiled on public figures together with Tory ex-Minister David Davis (pictured), who questioned the modelling behind alarming Covid demise toll predictions
Peter Hitchens (pictured) was monitored after sharing an article, based mostly on leaked NHS papers, which claimed information used to publicly justify the lockdown was incomplete
These Whitehall outfits have been tasked with tackling ‘disinformation’ and ‘dangerous narratives’ throughout the pandemic. Their actions have confronted fierce criticism after it emerged additionally they collected reliable social media posts questioning Authorities lockdown insurance policies.
Dossiers have been compiled on public figures together with Tory ex-Minister David Davis, who questioned the modelling behind alarming Covid demise toll predictions, and The MoS’s Peter Hitchens.
The paperwork reveal defence chiefs privately conceded the army’s work for the Authorities might pose a ‘potential presentational threat of Defence ‘spying’ or conducting ‘Psyops’ on the UK’. However the MoD feared that if the Armed Forces didn’t assist the Authorities’s on-line monitoring, then ‘dangerous misinformation and disinformation’ might unfold.
Jake Hurfurt, of the marketing campaign group Massive Brother Watch, final evening branded Whitehall’s use of army personnel as ‘an assault on freedom of speech’ and ‘behaviour befitting an authoritarian state’. He added: ‘The revelations that the RAF in addition to the Military spied on the British individuals throughout the pandemic is but extra proof that the MoD misled the general public concerning the function of its psyops troops in 2020.’
Official army paperwork obtained by this newspaper present that analysts from RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire
The MoS revealed in January how the Military’s secretive ‘info warfare brigade’ was tasked with scrutinising on-line posts
‘These paperwork show that Whitehall officers knew deploying the army to watch social media posts from politicians, journalists and the press would seem like spying – however they carried on anyway.’
The RAF and Military’s help to Whitehall is detailed in paperwork outlining official requests generally known as ‘Navy Assist to the Civil Authorities’ (MACA). These are usually utilized by the Authorities when army assist is required to reply to pure disasters.
The papers additionally present how in 2020 the Authorities was contemplating a dramatic growth of the Counter Disinformation Unit by ordering monitoring of on-line chatter about Brexit and the NHS.
Mr Hurfurt final evening demanded that the Covid Inquiry additionally examine how the Authorities ‘monitored the British individuals’.
Peter Hitchens was monitored after sharing an article, based mostly on leaked NHS papers, which claimed information used to publicly justify the lockdown was incomplete.
An inside Fast Response Unit e-mail mentioned Mr Hitchens needed to ‘additional [an] anti-lockdown agenda and affect the Commons vote’.
The Authorities mentioned: ‘On-line disinformation is a severe risk, which is why within the pandemic we introduced collectively experience from throughout authorities to watch disinformation about Covid.
‘The items used publicly obtainable information, together with materials on social media. They didn’t goal people or take motion that would influence the power to debate points freely.’