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Counter-terror police investigate after daily’s undercover anti-vaxxer probe

Counter-terror police are investigating after an undercover reporter exposed an anti-vaccine group that the newspaper claims has published racist and Nazi propaganda.

Sheffield daily The Star undertook the covert investigation to expose Freenation Sheffield, an anti-vaxxer group that often meets in the city’s Endcliffe Park.

The Star was alerted by a former member of the group and an undercover reporter subsequently found some of its members regularly shared articles, videos and propaganda claiming knowledge of a conspiracy to exterminate white people and enslave survivors.

The reporter, whose identity had been kept secret, also found posts that were openly supportive of the Nazis and conspiracies often adopted by far-right movements such as the ‘Kalergi Plan’, as well as other homophobic and anti-Semitic content.


Evidence gathered for the article has been passed on to South Yorkshire Police, which has confirmed it is investigating the matter.

In a story about its investigation, The Star reported: “Not a single one of the offending posts – some of which were shared months ago – was challenged by any of the members or admins of the group, which operates on encrypted messaging app Telegram. Those who posted them remain members at the time of writing.

“The racially-motivated hate posts in the group are present alongside other misinformation relating to resisting the vaccine, information directing people to organised anti-vaccine protests and meet-ups, and claims the virus is caused by 5G and electromagnetic frequencies (EMF).

“The Freenation Sheffield Telegram channel, which at the time of writing has 134 members including the reporter’s undercover account, is also a space where anti-vaccine propaganda from other channels can be shared.

“This includes directions on how to fake vaccination cards and advice for care workers who wish to continue working in care homes while unvaccinated.”

A police spokesperson told HTFP: “Our officers are aware of the reports and have spoken to reporters at Sheffield Star to ascertain the details of the claims made in their article.

“We’d like to reassure the public that an investigation has been launched and our officers are carrying out enquiries in partnership with Counter Terrorism Policing.

“Inciting hatred online is a hate crime, and we will not tolerate crimes of this nature in South Yorkshire.

“If you have been affected by online hate speech, if you are a victim of, or a witness to, a hate crime, please report to police so we can investigate. All reports are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.

“You can report online using our new online reporting portal or by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

HTFP has also approached The Star for a comment.