Today
Sat 23 October 2021

Nafeez Ahmed reports on the recently formed APPG on Pandemic Response and Recovery, chaired by a Conservative MP, and which includes climate science deniers among its members

A new parliamentary group chaired by a former UK Cabinet minister who previously backed Boris Johnson is being funded and managed by Collateral Global – the successor organisation to the ‘Great Barrington Declaration’ (GBD), established by two of its co-founders, Oxford epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta and Ministry of Defence contractor Alex Caccia.

The group also includes Labour Party and Democratic Union Party (DUP) politicians with a history of climate science denialism.

The GBD is a pandemic disinformation group backed by the Koch climate science denial network, known for promoting a ‘herd immunity by natural infection’ approach to the Coronavirus crisis.

Its successor group, Collateral Global, established by Caccia – who conceived and drafted the GBD – is now a registered charity.

Records confirm that Gupta and Caccia are its main trustees. Its scientific advisors include their fellow GBD co-founders, Harvard University’s Professor Martin Kulldorf, and Stanford University’s Professor Jay Bhattacharya.  

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pandemic Response and Recovery was set up in September and is chaired by Conservative MP Esther McVey, who is also the registered contact for the group.

McVey previously served in Johnson’s Cabinet as a Housing and Planning Minister, before which she was Work and Pensions Secretary.

She is joined by two other Conservatives on the APPG: MP Miriam Cates – who, as Byline Times previously reported, has expressed support for anti-vaccine group UsforThem; and Baroness Jacqueline Foster of Oxton, who was nominated to become a life peer by Johnson in December 2020. 

According to parliamentary records, Collateral Global is the APPG’s secretariat and is also funding it. The records indicate that the group has received more than £30,000 of funding from the organisation – including “£25,501-27,000” as ‘benefits in kind’ on 8 September, and £5,000 as ‘financial benefits’ on 13 September.

Collateral Global has not declared the sources of its funding and has refused to respond to Byline Times questions about its income.


Support from HART and Climate Science Deniers

The APPG has also received PR support from the Health Advisory and Recovery Group (HART), which harbours a range of conspiratorial anti-vaxxer views about the pandemic – including the idea that Coronavirus death certificates are fake, that deaths are really being caused by vaccines rather than COVID, and that the both the disease and vaccines are part of a global depopulation conspiracy by elites.

A press release announcing the creation of the APPG was sent out by Jemma Moran – HART’s head of communications. 

HART advisor Dr John Lee – who has promoted misinformation downplaying COVID-19 deaths – was invited to address the APPG’s inaugural meeting.

Joining him to speak at the event was Professor Robert Dingwall – a Government advisor to England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty’s Moral and Ethical Advisory Group. Prof Dingwall was previously an advisor on the Government’s NERVTAG and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) COVID-19 sub-group until a ‘refresh’ in August. Byline Times has previously revealed that, during his JCVI stint, Prof Dingwall was secretly in contact with the HART network.

Other members of the new cross-party group include two prominent climate science deniers.

Labour MP Graham Stringer is a trustee of the Koch-connected Global Warming Policy Foundation, Britain’s most prominent climate science denial lobby group which takes funds from fossil fuels companies. He has denied the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s conclusion that humans are the dominant cause of current climate change. So has his colleague in the APPG, Democratic Unionist Party Chief Whip Sammy Wilson MP, who has claimed among other things that human-induced climate change is a “myth based on dodgy science”. 

The APPG on Pandemic Response and Recovery claims that it will provide a forum “for politicians, scientists, health professionals, economists, business leaders and other experts; to facilitate broad, balanced and open discussion; to inform a more focused and flexible approach to Government policy; to reach for new solutions in pandemic management which prevent avoidable suffering and loss in the future”.

Byline Times has contacted Esther McVey MP for comment.

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