The exent of the disinformation machine's thirst for influence is as worrying as some of us had feared;
Leaked chat logs reveal that HART, a group of lockdown-skeptic activists and health professionals, coordinated efforts to spread disinformation and lobby MPs, aiming to 'wrestle control back from SAGE.'
(Sorry, trying to post the rest here in multiple chunks, otherwise it refuses and won't say what is wrong, rather infuriating for a simple sharing of news)The HART Files: Inside the Group Trying to Smuggle Anti-Vaccine Myths into Westminster
Chat records and other documents obtained by Logically show that a U.K. group of lockdown-skeptic political activists and health professionals have been coordinating efforts to lobby MPs and gain political and media influence, with an aim to “wrestle control back from SAGE.”
Logically reviewed hundreds of documents and tens of thousands of messages sent between members of HART (Health Advisory and Recovery Team) which go as far back as January, prior to the group’s official launch. The documents, including briefing bulletins that were sent to MPs, are outwardly polished in their presentation so as to appear legitimate, but the chat logs reveal a deeper connection to disinformation narratives commonly encountered on alternative news sites.
On its website, HART describes itself as “a group of highly qualified UK doctors, scientists, economists, psychologists and other academic experts” who came together “over shared concerns about policy and guidance recommendations relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Logically’s analysis of the chat logs reveals more than 150 members, whereas fewer than 45 members appear on HART’s “Who Are We?” webpage, which notably omits some of the most prolific members working behind the scenes. Initially, the group branded itself as giving a “credible second opinion for politicians, the media, businesses and the wider public.” In pursuit of this goal, it coordinated efforts to create and distribute medical misinformation through a variety of channels.
Inside the logs
Logically obtained the HART chat logs via a tip from someone inside the group. The person behind the leak, who spoke to Logically on the condition of anonymity, said that they had been researching the group after a friend shared links from HART.
“I tried to convince this friend that that site was not a good source of information,” they said. “I became a bit obsessed with the HART group. I wanted to understand them. I wanted to be able to show people, with evidence, why the HART group should not be taken seriously.”
After discovering that a subdomain on the HART website linked to the group’s Rocket.Chat, a popular Slack alternative, they found that the chat was accessible to anyone who registered an account. Later, realizing that they hadn’t been removed from the group, they began saving the messages, automatically archiving redacted message content every hour and uploading it to the internet.
Among the group’s most active and notable contributors are businessman and political activist Narice Bernard, former Pfizer executive widely cited in antivax circles Dr. Michael Yeadon, pathologist Dr. Clare Craig, export credit specialist and libertarian Baron Bernie de Haldevang, anti-mask activist Jemma Moran, retired pediatrician and UsForThem campaigner Ros Jones, and Anna Rayner, who once described herself as a “homeopath specialising in treatment of Autism and related disorders, Vaccine Damage and heavy metal toxicity.”
The history of the chat logs reveal a clear and well organized lobbying campaign. One spreadsheet contained a complete list of members of the House of Commons, including their email addresses, Twitter handles, and lockdown voting history, highlighting those who most often voted against lockdowns. Roles within HART were also well defined. A document listing the HART group’s organizational structure shows specific areas for members to work on, including an executive coordinator role for Anna Rayner, who due to her “working in a maligned area of healthcare” wanted to remain “in the shadows.” "My role is to get us noticed at Westminster,” wrote Bernie de Haldevang, introducing himself to new members of the group in January, “the more we are the stronger we become, so a very warm welcome to you and I hope to get to know you all shortly."
HART members are critical of policies such as lockdowns, mask-wearing, and vaccination while also claiming that COVID is not a pandemic but an endemic. While the group does not believe, by and large, that the vaccines don’t work or that COVID doesn’t exist, they do frequently recommend alternative treatments such as ivermectin and vitamin D, at times claiming “the vaccine isn’t a vaccine,” as well as laundering views from more extreme and questionable sources such as the Daily Expose, Children’s Health Defense (a known anti-vax group in the U.S.), and dubious news sources.
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