Piers Corbyn arrested by police over anti-vax Auschwitz poster

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Piers Corbyn arrested by police over anti-vax Auschwitz poster

Climate change sceptic's name appeared on poster distributed in south London which appropriated the sign above Auschwitz, 'Arbeit macht frei' to 'vaccines are safe path to freedom'

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Piers Corbyn (2nd left) the brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at a Stop New Normal protest at Portobello Green in London.
Piers Corbyn (2nd left) the brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at a Stop New Normal protest at Portobello Green in London.

Piers Corbyn has been arrested over posters on which his name appears comparing vaccines to Auschwitz.

Police confirmed “officers investigating reports of malicious material in the form of a leaflet being circulated in south London in late January have made two arrests.”

“A 73-year-old man was arrested in Southwark on Wednesday, 3 February on suspicion of malicious communications and public nuisance.”

Another man, 37, “was arrested earlier the same day in Bow, east London, on suspicion of a public order offence.”

“Both men were taken to a south London police station. They have since been bailed to return on a date in early March.”

“The leaflet contained material that appeared to compare the Covid-19 vaccination programme with the Holocaust.”

Corbyn, 73, who is an anti-vaccination activist, came up with the ‘concept idea’ for the poster which depicts Auschwitz, but changes its infamous phrase at its gate from ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, meaning ‘work sets you free’, to  “vaccines are safe path to freedom”.

Underneath the illustration, which uses the Evening Standard’s name and logo, it says ‘concept idea Piers Corbyn and drawing by Alexander Heaton’.

The leaflet was reported to police by Labour’s Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark, who said he was “absolutely sickened by anti-vax conspiracy theory crackpot leaflets put through some doors in SE17 today. Sickening when people trying to stay home and safe. Hideous imagery and asking Southwark Police for action against these disgusting, dangerous cranks”.

Piers Corbyn has been approached for comment.

Controversial poster whose ‘concept idea’ was Piers Corbyn’s

Mike Katz, National Secretary of the Jewish Labour Movement said on Twitter it was “beyond disgusting. Vile and dangerous. The only thing that isn’t surprising about the conspiratorial crank depths this sinks to is the fact that Piers Corbyn is behind it.”

An image of the poster was shared by the mayor of Lambeth, Philip Normal, who said on Twitter: “As if this came through our door. Antisemitism, racism, HATE.. is not tolerated in my house, or this country, or the planet Earth.”

Cllr Kieron Williams, Leader of Southwark Council, told Jewish News: “It is deeply disturbing that a very small minority is playing upon the fears and concerns of some of our residents by distributing wholly false and, in some instances, inexcusably malicious disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine. I am personally appalled at the attempt to peddle dangerous conspiracy theories invoking imagery of Auschwitz. We will not stand for antisemitism in our borough. We have reported this incident to the police, who are investigating whether a crime has been committed.

“Councils and health partners are working extremely hard with community leaders to listen to and address the genuine concerns of our residents, and reassure them that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Shameful disinformation of this sort dampens our efforts to help save lives.”

Meanwhile, shadow culture secretary, Jo Stevens, told the Guardian: “The growth in dangerous and, in some cases, far-right and antisemitic anti-vax material is deeply worrying with coordinated attempts to spread fear and distrust both online and offline.”


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