Left-wing bias of scientists on Independent Sage urging for harsher Covid rules

LABOUR Party donors, Corbynistas and a professor who branded the PM a “psychopath” are today unmasked as members of the group of scientists demanding harsher Covid restrictions.

Independent Sage — a 12-strong committee urging caution over lifting lockdown measures — vowed to be free of “any political bias” when it was created at the height of the pandemic.

🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates

But a Sun on Sunday probe can disclose that the group, which claims to shadow the official Sage panel advising the Government, is littered with left-wing supporters.

In the past two weeks alone, so-called Independent Sage scientists have appeared on BBC Newsnight, Sky News, BBC Politics Live ITV News and in The Guardian.

Critic Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “Broadcasters are fully aware of their political agenda and give them considerable airtime without any counterbalance.

“The committee’s almost identical name to Sage could mislead the public into thinking that the Government is ignoring the advice of its own advisers — instead of a politically motivated group.”

Independent Sage was created last year by Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May. He led the Labour government’s response to the 2001 foot-and-mouth epidemic.

In an interview last year he said the handpicked group of scientists he heads up intended to provide “unbiased advice” — but at least HALF hold strong anti-Government views.


Warning last month against the easing of restrictions, Independent Sage member Anthony Costello tweeted: “We didn’t suppress the virus in Feb 2020 and followed an absurd herd immunity policy.

"We failed again after the second lockdown, which led to the third. Nothing has changed for the next variant surge.”

Costello — a former director of the World Health Organization — told Question Time three days ago restrictions should be kept.

The professor, who has described himself as “to the left of Jeremy Corbyn” on economic and environmental issues, has described the Prime Minister as a “narcissistic psychopath”.

The public could be mislead into thinking that the Government is ignoring the advice of its own advisers — instead of a politically motivated group.

Professor Deenan Pillay, a virologist at University College London is also an Independent Sage member who is a vocal critic of the Government.

He once retweeted a message saying the Tories had pursued a “vicious, racist campaign against migrants”.

And above a picture of Matt Hancock he once asked: “How incompetent can this lot be?”

On the announcement of Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi — who has since overseen the UK’s hugely successful jabs drive — he said: “Has anyone heard anything, ever, from the UK Minister in charge of COVID vaccine rollout?”

Last week he said recent data on the surge of the Indian variant “make it more difficult to carry on with the roadmap as planned.”

His Independent Sage colleague Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London, claimed in a 2014 tweet that Boris Johnson does not like “women, the poor, Europe or immigrants.

She regularly retweets interviews with Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and last week drew attention to a statement by Yvette Cooper criticising the Government.

She has spent the past seven days giving TV interviews calling for more draconian restrictions.

In a tweet last Thursday, she insisted: “Any delays to the roadmap or a bad new surge are entirely on the Government. They should be the target of our anger.”

Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine, is another member of the committee.

On May 28, four days before the country reported ZERO deaths, he tweeted: “Things not looking positive on #Covid-19, unfortunately. The 7-day UK figures published at 4pm show 24% growth in cases, 25% growth in hospital admissions, and 38% rise in deaths.”

Professor Scally donated £20,000 to Andy Burnham to fund his 2015 campaign for Labour Party leader and contributed towards Mr Burnham’s bid to become Manchester mayor.

Last year he tweeted his support for Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership bid.

In 2012, Prof Scally resigned from his £200,000 job as regional director of public health for South West England citing concerns about the then-Conservative and Lib Dem coalition Government’s health policies.

One of the committee’s most high-profile members is the millionaire communist Professor Susan Michie.

On Tuesday — the day not a SINGLE person was reported to have died from Covid in the UK — she urged the Government to delay lifting restrictions, claiming: “We’re on a knife-edge. We could go either way with this new variant.”

Professor Michie, who also sits on the official Sage group, is a key member of the Communist Party of Britain and wants to establish a new socialist order in this country.

Dubbed “Stalin’s nanny” when she was a student at Oxford, Prof Michie is at the forefront of the campaign to keep life closed down.


Even this month, with the death rate plummeting, she co-authored an article demanding yet more restrictions on daily life.

Her Independent Sage colleague Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told The Guardian on Monday: “We can already see that the current measures are not stopping cases rising rapidly in many parts of the country.

"This looks very much as if we are now early in a third wave.”

He once wrote a book attacking Conservative health policy and previously called the PM a liar who has been “taking scientists for fools”.

‘They don’t care’

TOBY YOUNG, of the Free Speech Union, said our revelations should lead to the team of boffins facing scrutiny under the Trade Descriptions Act for claiming to be independent.

He blasted: “There’s nothing independent about Independent Sage.

“It is a bunch of political activists pumping out anti-Boris propaganda. Independent Sage should be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act.

“It’s as if a group of fanatical animal rights activists had set up a group called Independent RSPCA and persuaded newspapers and broadcasters to take them seriously while they demand five-year jail sentences for anyone caught eating meat.

“They don’t think we should come out of lockdown until the virus has been eradicated, which, of course, will never happen.

“They don’t care about the economic impact because they think people will blame Boris and vote Labour at the next election.

“They are passionate believers in the power of the state. Their solution to any crisis is massive state intervention and to hell with the cost.

“Boris has done almost everything he has been told by his scientific advisers – closing schools, making us wear masks and placing the UK in lockdown for the best part of a year and a half.

“Yet as far as these loons are concerned, he’s a far-right libertarian putting profits before people.

“Anything short of literally walling people up in their homes – which is what the Chinese Communist Party did – is regarded by them as criminally irresponsible.”

McKee also signed a letter to the Guardian claiming a No-Deal Brexit under Boris Johnson would be a “threat to public health”.

Not all of the committee are quite as partisan. Stephen Reicher, a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews, has been critical of Boris Johnson but warned that arguments about whether going into an earlier lockdown would have saved 20,000 lives should not be raised just to “settle scores”.

Broadcasters are fully aware of their political agenda and give them considerable airtime.

His colleague Dr Tolullah Oni has also steered clear of political statements, while Professor Karl Friston, of University College London, has praised the vaccine rollout.

But Independent Sage is becoming more and more influential.

In the past two weeks commentators from the group continued to pop up on TV and radio demanding tighter restrictions.

Its meetings, which are broadcast live online every Friday, attract hundreds of thousands of views, and its Twitter account has 142,000 followers.

Independent Sage is funded by not-for-profit The Citizens, which says it is a group of “activists and journalists”.

Donors have so far given £51,000 towards a £55,000 fundraising target set on the GoFundMe website.

The Sun says

THE next time a scientist from Independent Sage warns of the dangers of unlocking, remember this.

Its professors and doctors are widely quoted across the airwaves demanding harsher Covid restrictions.

What they don’t reveal is that many of them have a left-wing anti-government agenda. Some are even Labour donors.

Alarmist experts attacking Boris Johnson’s handling of the Covid crisis are nothing new. But the public should be able to trust that scientists spouting off on TV have no political bias.

While some of the panel’s scientists are undoubtedly unbiased, there is a good number who allow their partisan views to cloud their judgment.

There are two things wrong with the name Independent Sage.

Firstly the group has no link to the Government’s official advisory group SAGE.

Secondly it is about as independent as Jeremy Corbyn.


It says the cash will pay for press conferences and reports as well as the running of social media accounts and its YouTube channel.

And with so much media coverage, hitting its target won’t be a problem. A spokesman for Independent Sage last night declined to comment.

But last night a source close to the group said its advice was based on science, not on political allegiances, and they “want the best for their country”.

    Source: Read Full Article