Priti Patel brands ‘conspiracy theorist’ anti-vax protest at Covid test centre ‘unacceptable’

The Home Secretary has said it is “unacceptable” that anti-vax “conspiracy theorists” disrupted a Covid testing site on Wednesday.

Priti Patel gave her “full support” to the police to take action against the protesters after dozens of marchers were filmed entering a Test and Trace centre in Milton Keynes.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid hit out at the “vile behaviour” of the group, which appeared to include Piers Corbyn, the brother of ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who was arrested on suspicion of encouraging people to attack MPs’ offices earlier this month.

In footage shared on social media, the group entered the centre and threw traffic cones towards the marquee set up to administer tests, and also appeared to damage some equipment.

Ms Patel said she was being kept updated on an investigation by Thames Valley Police, which has called for the public to share information about the protest.

She tweeted: “It is more important than ever that people have their vaccinations and booster jabs.

“And it is completely unacceptable that conspiracy theorists are intimidating and harassing those administering tests or delivering the life-saving vaccine programme.

“The police have my full support to take swift action where necessary.”

Ms Patel also claimed powers in her controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would help “crack down on public nuisance and disruptive protests that impact the law-abiding majority”.

Mr Javid said: “I was appalled to see [the] mob threaten NHS Test and Trace staff who are working so hard to keep people safe.

“This kind of vile behaviour is unacceptable.”

Their comments came after a separate disturbance in which a group of apparent covid deniers tried to remove a patient from a hospital in Liverpool.

On Wednesday, Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said it was “appalling” to see the protest “escalate into something much uglier”.

He added that he had spoken to officers to discuss the police response on Wednesday evening, and said “criminal offences will be investigated and appropriate action taken”.

“All of the events of today will be reviewed to help plan for future protest events and ensure that colleagues in the NHS can continue their fantastic work in delivering the vaccine roll out,” he said.

Thames Valley Police said no arrests had been made, but that they had footage of the incident.

“Thames Valley Police is aware of an anti-vaccination protest that took place in central Milton Keynes this afternoon,” a spokesperson said.

“Where criminal offences have been disclosed, we will take swift action and bring offenders to justice.

“If anyone has any information or wishes to report they can do by calling 101 or online quoting reference 604 29/12/2021.”

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