20:35 GMT30 May 2020
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    The notion of a link between coronavirus and 5G, which is used in mobile phone networks, has led to phone masts being set alight and vandalised across the UK, and the filmed harassment of telecoms professionals installing the innovation.

    UK TV regulator Ofcom has announced it will assess comments made by ITV This Morning presenter Eamonn Holmes about 5G technology and coronavirus "as a priority" after receiving 419 complaints about remarks he made on the show’s 13th April instalment.

    Holmes cast doubt on widespread media reports attacking claims 5G causes the virus as journalists "don't know it's not true" in a segment with This Morning’s consumer editor Alice Beer, who dismissed the theory as "not true” and “incredibly stupid".

    ​"I totally agree with everything you are 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 inquiring mind,” he responded.

    ​The host was immediately and widely criticised on social media, with some scientists weighing in - a spokesperson for Ofcom has also said the body was “assessing this programme in full as a priority”. The regulator is currently prioritising complaints made about harmful or inaccurate information related to coronavirus, and if it concludes the complaints have merit, full investigations will be launched.

    ​On the 14th April show, Holmes clarified there was no established link between 5G and coronavirus, but many were nonetheless "looking for answers” and that's “simply” what he was trying to do in turn.

    ​"I want to clarify some comments some of you may have misinterpreted yesterday, around conspiracy theories and coronavirus… Both Alice Beer and I agreed on this programme it's not true and there’s no connection between the present national health emergency and 5G, and to suggest otherwise would be wrong and indeed it could be dangerous. Every theory relating to such a connection has been proven to be false and we would like to emphasise that. For the avoidance of any doubt I want to make it completely clear there's no scientific evidence to substantiate any of those 5G theories. I hope that clears that up,” he said.

    Responding to Holmes’ comments, Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said the opinions of the mainstream media or the state on 5G and coronavirus “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,” he added.

    Responding to the countrywide attacks on phone masts and “abuse of telecoms engineers”, “apparently inspired by crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online”, a government spokesperson said those responsible for criminal acts will face the full force of the law.

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    Ofcom, ITV, SARS coronavirus, coronavirus, COVID-19
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