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Anti-vaxxer’s ‘death threat’ to journalist sparks police probe

Harriet Clugston 1A “death threat” sent by an anti-vaxxer to a journalist is being investigated by police.

Sussex Police has confirmed it is examining the threat, sent publicly to JPIMedia data and investigations editor Harriet Clugston, pictured.

Harriet reported the threat, which appeared to call for the execution of journalists, to Twitter but was initially told the post did not breach the social network’s rules.

The offending account has since been locked by the site – although it has not been banned permanently.

Harriet posted a screenshot of the “death threat”, which featured an image of hangings following the Nuremberg trials.

It was captioned: “Members of the media who lied and misled the German people were executed, right along with the medical doctors and nurses who participated in medical experiments using living people as guinea pigs.”

The image, posted in response to a story Harriet had written for JPIMedia’s NationalWorld website about calls for young children to receive coroanvirus vaccinations, was accompanied by the words “just sayin'”.

Sussex Police has now taken Harriet’s case on for a second time after initially referring it to Police Scotland, which found “no criminality has been established at this time”.

Speaking to HTFP, Harriet said: “The image tweeted to me – a particular standout in an onslaught of anti-vax abuse that came my way simply for reporting on official Covid data – will be familiar to many other journalists who have faced similar harassment and intimidation for doing their jobs.

“A cursory glance at the account’s feed revealed it was not the first time he had sent that particular image to a reporter in recent days. It was a clear threat and glorification of violence.”

NationalWorld editor Nick Mitchell told HTFP: “Throughout the pandemic journalists at JPI Media and across the industry have had to endure horrendous abuse from anti-vaxxers, both on social media and in person, just for doing their job.

“This latest example directed at Harriet was extremely disturbing. While the police are now involved, it’s about time that social media platforms took these threats seriously instead of deferring their moderation process to an algorithm.”

The abuse aimed at Harriet comes after HTFP reported last month how Hull Daily Mail senior reporter Susie Beever had shared fears that anti-vaccination protesters may attack regional journalists following a “terrifying” threat she faced herself.

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “On Thursday 6 January, we received a report of a malicious communication sent on social media. The matter is being reviewed.”