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Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

Anti-vaccine protesters occupy ITV News and Channel 4 headquarters

Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow chased by conspiracy theorists during incident at ITN building in central London
Anti-vaccine protesters occupied the headquarters of ITV News and Channel 4 News in London on Monday afternoon, the latest in a series of actions aimed at the media.

Jon Snow, the Channel 4 News presenter, was chased into one of the building’s side entrances by conspiracy theorists shouting at him.

Livestream footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting scientifically unsupported claims about the Covid-19 vaccine programme and blaming the media for promoting so-called vaccine passports, which they view as incompatible with British values.

After marching from King’s Cross station to ITN’s Gray’s Inn Road headquarters, protesters were met by two uniformed police officers guarding the building’s revolving doors. However, they were immediately let through an emergency exit, apparently by a supporter who was already inside the building.

The protesters were then stranded in the building’s reception, separated by a glass wall from ITN journalists stuck inside their offices, with both groups filming each other. Eventually, police reinforcements arrived to clear the building.

Although the majority of the British public has now had a Covid-19 vaccine, and the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, the persistent nature of anti-vaccine protests has caused particular concern for executives in the news industry.

They are struggling to work out how to protect their journalists from harassment both online and in person, especially following an incident involving the BBC Newsnight political editor, Nick Watt, outside Downing Street.

There has been some confusion among anti-vaccine protesters regarding which media they are targeting. Earlier this month a group gained access to the BBC’s former headquarters at Television Centre in protest at BBC News, although the building is now used to make ITV’s Loose Women. Similarly, several of the individuals livestreaming the occupation of ITN’s building on Monday afternoon seemed to be operating under the erroneous belief that they had taken over the headquarters of the Daily Mail.

The protesters later headed to Google’s central London offices, where they were again met by police officers.

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