Analysis Breaking comment

Biggest political scandal since Cambridge Analytica about to break as fake NHS accounts ‘set up by Dept of Health’

Brilliant work by anti-racism group founder exposes more than 100 fake accounts and ties them to DHSC

The Department of Health (DHSC) has been tied to a string of fake social media accounts by investigative work that discovered a single sign-on tied to the government department.

John O’Connell spotted the fake accounts and his investigations have revealed that 128 accounts were definitely operated by the same individual – with four ‘assigned contributors’ – and that the individual sign-on belongs to a ‘contracted individual assigned’ to DHSC. There are also a number of other ‘probables’ and ‘possibles’.

Around a third of the accounts used photos of actual NHS staff – and of those O’Connell contacted, all confirmed that the accounts were not theirs and the photos had been used without permission:

One of the real NHS images is shown and the top of this article and, ironically, seems to have first appeared in an article on the website of the Unison union, to which many NHS staff belong – and to have been stolen by the fake account creators:

What appears to be the first appearance of picture stolen for fake account

That the fake account’s creators used a picture with a name badge clearly stating ‘Mia’ on an account supposedly belonging to ‘Susan’ about sums up the arrogant sloppiness of the Tories.

Mia is Staff Nurse Mia Magklavani, from Greece. Unlike the fake ‘Susan’, she is not deaf.

The DHSC and its NHS trust management appear to be showing no concern for the welfare of the NHS staff whose identities were stolen for the fake accounts:

No comment’ – then a propaganda attack

O’Connell contacted DHSC – who declined to comment, even though he had identified a DHSC ‘contracted employee’ as the owner of the Hootsuite account controlling the fakes. O’Connell offered to provide them with his data – and that was declined too:

However, as O’Connell’s work began to gain traction on social media, DHSC mounted a propaganda campaign to smear the revelations as fake news by responding in O’Connell’s threads and those of Twitter users sharing his findings:

Mass deletions

In a further sign of central control of the fake accounts, they were all deleted en masse after they were exposed by O’Connell – including the fake ‘NHS_Susan’ account:

In spite of the DHSC claims that the revelations are ‘categorically false’, the opposite appears to be true, as O’Connell explained:

O’Connell has said that further work is being done to nail down all the details, not least because he fears a smear campaign to discredit him similar to that mounted against the Cambridge Analytica whistleblowers:

The SKWAWKBOX is in discussion with Mr O’Connell about a potential guest article or series when he is ready to proceed.


This is not the first time that a series of fake accounts has been set up to hide Boris Johnson’s and the Tories’ abuse of our health, health service and health staff.

During the last general election campaign, fake accounts were set up in droves to discredit revelations about a sick little boy forced to sleep on a hospital floor because of a hospital’s shortage of beds.

But this is the first time such actions appear to be definitively connected to an official government department and those acting exclusively on its behalf.

To behave like this in a national crisis, diverting DHSC resources to a campaign to con the people of the country while hundreds are dying each day, in an attempt to distract from Tory guilt and failure, is unforgivable. It deserves to become a government-toppling scandal – but do not hold your breath waiting for the so-called ‘mainstream’ media to pay attention.

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  1. Quite odd. Heard someone yesterday on radio evening denying that dodgy stuff was going on. Just when you think the Right wing can’t sink any lower than Keir Starmer and 45 Minute to destruction Tony Blair and Arsetair Campbellend, the Right Wing Tories red & blue find lower depths. Remarkable.

    The bastards have no limits of depravity and heartlessness. People are deliberately REFUSED hospital admissions, DENIED Covid-19 testing, then die with obvious symptoms ie horrific hasping for breath, and certifiers apparently INSTRUCTED to NOT put Covid-19 on the death certificates. So thus far, the figures presented at the daily press conferences are nothing but a SICK FARCE. CALLOUS DECEIVING of the PUBLIC or BREATHTAKING INCOMPETENCE⚠️⚠️⚠️

  2. Very serious issue here of the government supplying fake and fraudulent accounts.Any government that can do this so blatantly is out of control and feels they are above the law because,They are the Law.What more have they rigged?Murder? Euthanasia?A general election?.The list of possibles stretches beyond anything many thought possible,but the sad fact is that they will get away with it and are arrogantly unconcerned because they have already got away with so much and who’s to stop them with like minded crooks in control of the Labour party and the only form of opposition.I seriosly wonder has this cancer spread to the knights gang and have we too seem a rigged election?and how all avenues of democratic accountability slipped away whilst we were sleeping.Well done mr O’Connell and squawk box.

    1. weeks ago Dan & Joseph, i posted that the callous people, just like 45 Minute Tony Blair WMD, will claim that we are using hindsight. So said so done. What’s more remarkable, a woman on the weekend defending the government, said she expects people “with hindsight” will claim the govt has not provided Personal Protection Equipment ie gloves, face masks, visors and gowns etc‼️ So much is off the scale, i did not make a note. PPE provision is basic duty of care. The PPE protects medical staff, patient, other patients, other staff AND the general public, family friends etc Matt Hancock cannot understand this.

      It is a shocking state of affairs. Never thought i’d see the day when the slow grinding down of the public, could come to this. The “science” woman today gave some unliveable responses to questions. Every week, it seems like a weird dream. It’s not and it get even more extraordinary. I must sleep now but do see if u can listen again to the lady “scientist”. As per Animal Farm and / or The Beach, or the experiment when people carry out instructions to deliver electric shocks to others… THIS IS IT.

      The Ministers repeat “scientist” and “science” they never disclose who are the “scientists” nor which specific studies or papers. They assume that enough of the public will be mesmerised by them claiming to “follow the science”. Not one of the “journalists” asks, WHAT SCIENCE⁉️ nor By whom⁉️ The journalist may be hypnotised or just doing as they are told. No one is that embarrassing, when fatalities are involved. Fatalities in the TENS of THOUSANDS 🌹🌹🌹

  3. And they are getting ‘disinformtion’ taken down off the internet and lecturing us about fake news while feeding us their disinformation and fake corona virus info!

  4. Here’s another related scandal, is it any wonder that the TUC is calling for a public enquiry into PPE ‘shortages’.

    “Millions of pieces of vital protective equipment are being shipped from British warehouses to Germany, Spain and Italy despite severe shortages in this country, The Telegraph can disclose.
    Lorries are being packed with masks, respirators and other PPE kit before heading back to supply hospitals in the EU, it has emerged.
    On Monday night, UK firms said they had “no choice” but to keep selling the lifesaving gear abroad because their offers of help had been repeatedly ignored by the Government.
    The companies say their offers of help have been repeatedly ignored by the UK Government
    The companies say their offers of help have been repeatedly ignored by the UK Government

    1. SteveH, thanks for the link, sorry for posting it in full, a few things just rang a bit false.

      “Millions of pieces of vital protective equipment are being shipped from British warehouses to Germany, Spain and Italy despite severe shortages in this country, The Telegraph can disclose.

      Lorries are being packed with masks, respirators and other PPE kit before heading back to supply hospitals in the EU, it has emerged.

      On Monday night, UK firms said they had “no choice” but to keep selling the lifesaving gear abroad because their offers of help had been repeatedly ignored by the Government.

      It comes as the Government faces growing criticism over the PPE crisis with hospitals close to running out of critical equipment, and doctors forced to choose between exposing themselves to the virus or “letting a patient die on their watch”

      I’m curious about why “it has emerged” on a Monday night – and “no choice but to” – and “offers of help repeatedly ignored.”
      “Heading back” suggests trucks from the importing countries.
      “It has emerged” from where and from whom? Whistleblower customs officer at port resulting in journalist call to supplier/exporter eliciting defensive response?
      “No choice” could mean anything from being threatened with death to being offered such a great price they had to grab it.
      “Offers of help ignored” may or may not be true – it may be that the exporters were simply using the UK’s shortage as a bargaining chip to extort higher prices from Germany, Spain and Italy – which still doesn’t excuse governmental incompetence.
      A government that can’t press a few buttons and find every UK supplier working in any given sector and all their product lines is a joke – all the necessary information is held by government departments after all – if they can’t access it what the fuck good are they?
      “If your company can help, get in touch” is just pathetic.

      The question is “Which capitalist is lying – government or business?”
      It’s a trick question, obviously.

      1. David – Here’s some further details for you that were published in ‘Metro’

        British wholesalers claim their warehouses were already full of millions of PPE items bought from China earlier this year which are now being shipped to the EU, according to the Telegraph.

        Lorries registered in Italy arrived on Monday at a warehouse owned by Veenak International, a pharmaceutical wholesaler based in Birmingham, where they took delivery of 750,000 surgical masks before heading back across the Channel.

        The newspaper was told that as many as five million surgical masks, more than a million FFP2 respirators and more than half a million FFP3 respirators stored inside three warehouses in Birmingham and outside Heathrow Airport were packed onto lorries registered in the EU.

        Veenak International claimed millions of PPE bought from China is still in its UK warehouse, but will now be shipped abroad.

      2. Presumably it’s being sold to whoever offers the highest price, in line with BloJob’s “Superman” speech.
        I wonder if he had the comic book or the 3rd Reich in mind?

      3. To be honest I doubt that this company was attempting to gauge the NHS and no doubt the Tories will be quick to tell us if they were. This is a well established company and the reputational damage would be too big a risk.

      4. Real capitalists don’t even acknowledge the existence of price-gouging.
        There is only supply and demand and the market is sacrosanct.
        Like usurers have taught us throughout history, the more you profit from your talents, dollars, pounds, euros or shekels the more god loves you.

  5. ITs a new day here and I am thankful not to be in the line of fire in the UK.My age makes me an ideal candidate for a trip to the mortuary on the downs near Brighton FC.I am in remarkably good health at the moment but I am naturaly cautious to return to the UK being economically non viable for living in a country were morality by the many has gone through the window.How the public can aceppt what’s happening beggars belief…My wife has never visited Germany which is a shame as I have enjoyed my visits.She says “why should I visit a country that wanted to make a lampshade of me”So she’s naturally like me afraid of whats becoming expedient in the UK.She was never frightened of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party,but together we are frightened of the Tory party and a substantial number of the general public who consider extermination of the economically non viable population a good idea.At least the jews thought they were walking into a shower instead of a gas chamber,but the British population seem unconcerned that a government is committed to Crimes against humanity in the failed coverup of mass murder with the nodding acceptance of a substantial Moraly bankrupt part of the population and supported by a compliant knight and a tame media.How vdid it ever come to this?

  6. I’d have thought that at the very least there is here a legal case to answer by the Govt Dept for ID theft .And of course there is that toothless tiger the Data Protection act that has absolutely been transgressed by this Agency .
    However with such a sycophantic opposition Leadership I doubt very much if anything , not even a whimper will be heard .
    It is shameful that the importance and relevance of this act will pass without it registering in the consciousness of the General Public , lost within all the “noise” of the pandemic.
    Here is the evidence of yet another destructive action against our democracy ( or what the Tories have reduced to a joke of one ! )
    Well done Skwawkbox keep up the great work now more than ever do we all need the Alt News Media .

    Some sobering and very informative information for Prof John Ashworth is on DOuble DOwn News

    1. rob
      Kids are NOT super spreaders
      See research from France and Sweden
      Great example of challenge to get them back to school, parents and teachers equally ill informed
      The other key fact is when you lock people up you are simply delaying the spread,
      The only good thing is it buys time for NHS
      So expect a second wave, this time we need to manage it IN THE COMMUNITY
      The only question now is do we have resources to do this

      1. Doug, calling kids superspreaders is not to decry them, but the youngest quite naturally have little concept of personal space, having until nursery school only experienced the closeness of family.
        They’re like sardines in class, they crowd through doors when the bell rings, natural exuberance makes them forget danger and they’ll deny eating the chocolate when they’re covered in the stuff.
        Social distancing of younger children would be possible only with physical barriers I think.
        My own view is that they should be safe at home with their parents and adults without dependants should keep the country running.

  7. The leaked Integrity Initiative papers revealed that one of the go-to companies the Tory gov use for this sort of influence campaign is Edelman. Would be interesting to see if they were involved in this.

  8. The BBC has a “misinformation department,” (which, ironically, neither Kaura Kuenssberg nor John Ware are part of). Last night they had 30 minutes on Radio 4 to explain how to spot fake social media posts concerning coronavirus. On March 9th Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, announced that HMG had set up a specialist unit to counter disinformation. Faced with such an array of disinformation/misinformation specialists and a dodgy social media post: “who you gonna call?”

  9. I think this story is unlikely to be what it is suggested although I will wait for further detail before passing final judgement.

    Such fake accounts are very unlikely to be set-up by a government department. I know many are of the opinion that gov comms will do whatever to please politicians but it’s not like that and I work in the field. There would be no doubt such actions would be an obvious breach of the code.

    For cynics who think the code is just ignored, what makes no sense is a (rule-breaking) department campaigns AGAINST government policy – the policy is not to ‘Open Up Again’ as the fake accounts campaigned for. The policy on that is ‘not yet’.

    It is far more likely that some pro-business group is behind the tweets.

    But ‘that person (controling the account) is a contacted government employee, temporarily assigned to this (DHSC) department’ says the article. If so, maybe they are doing this in their own time (or not) as an active Tory or other (it happens) or they are a current SPAD who are political appointees and work for their minister and party (not for the department).

    The allegation that the accounts are run by a ‘marketing agency’ who ‘only has one client’, with the suggestion being that this is the DHSC, is more interesting and would stand-up the story, if proven but in apparent contradiction, the story also claims the agency who control the account has 3 staff and all ‘are ex DHSC’, so are not ‘assigned to DHSC’ (unless back as a temp?)

    Not convincing so far and written throughout with that conspiracy mania that disfigures so much of the Left. They don’t need to conspire and it was not all ‘just a conspiracy’ Labour wasn’t elected. I am always reminded of the difference between classical anarchists – just stab or shot and conspire your way to power- and Marxists (like me) who think that’s a stupid strategy and also won’t achieve what you want.


    1. Southpaw punch…..
      Well So eveythings okay then and goverment supported black ops from empty premises in scotland and boiler house scams to bring Corbyn down all funded by the government was just a conspiracy theory?.Breach of codes and rules not possible you say?.iF You are a Marxist O would suggest you have a severe problems with interpretation of the class struggle and Would be better off supporting a libdem revolution or asking for a reward badge from Hancock

    2. “conspiracy mania that disfigures so much of the Left.”

      More – it can disfigure any argument if used carelessly.

      Not that there aren’t what can rightly be called ‘conspiracies’. Undoubtedly, the ‘antisemitism’ scam and the general media propaganda campaign against Corbyn fall into that broad category. The revelations from Labour HQ might also be classed as such.

      More than anything, though, constant reference to conspiracies tends to undermine the massive cock-up element that determines a hell of a lot of government action.

      … and it’s that incompetence, rather than any cunning plans’ that describes the response to Covid-19 – not scheming to ‘cull’ the section of the population who comprise a large proportion of Tory voters.

  10. Yvonne Doyle of PHE said at the daily news conference ” we know 9 out of10 covid deaths occur in hospital ” . Todays ONS figures tell us at least 1 in 6 die outside hospital. In anybody’s language that’s misinformation.

  11. Presumably we could find a decent law firm that would take on a civil action over this? Copyright theft is cut and dried. Mia owns the copyright of her profile picture. You could probably make a case for it being defamation, as well, but I’m pretty sure ‘misuse of private information’ is a dead cert as well. So, those are the civil offences: It would be a bit harder to get a criminal offence out of this – but it might be possible to suggest it is a form of fraudulent misrepresentation: you’d have to show that it was an attempt to obtain goods, money or services. If any of these fake accounts has asked for a donation to any charities, however …

  12. These may be pertinent in raising the profile of this issue, also is there a Freedom of Information question a that could be raised.

    There does definitely look like a breach of copyright and Trade mark laws
    The NHS logo is protected by law. It is a UK trade mark owned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. It is also protected by copyright.

    The GDPR sets out seven key principles:

    • Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
    • Purpose limitation
    • Data minimisation
    • Accuracy
    • Storage limitation
    • Integrity and confidentiality (security)
    • Accountability
    Is there an information governance issue?

    Wilful blindness

  13. No one will convince me that herd immunity isnt happening!! Small companies with tons of PPE aren’t getting answers from the government when offering it? The UK company that makes ventilators offering 500 today and 500 a week turned down,lie after lie about when PPE will arrive?? The company owners are posting all this on Twitter.The PM himself said herd immunity is a great way of making money on 3rd Feb.

    1. Govt ministers/spokesperson always say that the ventilators/PPE that are being offered by small companies don’t meet regulations. I accept that may be true of some.
      But Twitter is full of small companies saying they’re constantly trying to contact PHE DHSC NHSwith offers but aren’t getting any response.
      So if PHE DHSC NHS aren’t even responding they can’t be testing the equipment on offer.
      Jess Philips MP tweeted that she had been trying to get thro to DHSC to pass on details of companies that have contacted her but she too is getting nowhere.
      Is it incompetence, arrogance, lack of people knowing what they’re doing or cherry picking companies with links to Tory party/MPs. I’ve read many accusations with these claims.

      Whatever it is opposition parties need to work together, get people experienced in the testing regs for PPE & experienced in logistics to gather details from these companies that say they’re being blanked by NHS procurement & push for answers from the govt.
      We can’t expect health workers to risk their lives. Whether someone in DHSC is responsible for these fake accounts or whether it’s a couple of rogue operators , the DHSC should be concerned & investigate. If they won’t even look at his evidence how can they point blank deny it’s true.

    2. BloJob’s speech isn’t even shocking.
      Capitalists have always put corporate and personal profit above the common good.
      Neoliberalism since Thatcher has increasingly put it even above democracy, survival of the species and survival of the planet.
      To the 1% money is a “good” in its own right, over and above its purchasing power.
      Their acquisitiveness extends far beyond exotic toys and the power bestowed by wealth.
      On a dead planet with nothing left to buy, the last two rich men will still fight over money.

  14. What this shows is how feckless the mainstream media are at investigating anything. It shows a heartless, vicious, psychotic administration that will do anything to undermine the NHS and to continue with their herd immunity or what may be termed as genocide. A willingness to delay and obfuscate because they don’t want to admit they’ve been wrong about this crisis from the beginning.

    This in any decent democracy would be front page news and on all tv and radio outlets as the scandal it is but with the likes of BBC arse licking the Conservatives and a Labour Leader who is missing in action. I seriously think that Keir has gone on holiday, perhaps to Tony Blairs Island off the coast of Murdoch. Keir has been leader for about two weeks but this is a crisis and he has shown himself to be an administrator not a leader. Where is he? Who is this man that my CLP overwhelmingly voted for? What is he going to do about suspending people involved in the leaked document? Will he pop out in public only when he sees the EU flag?

  15. Mia was needed @ home in Greece. Why should NHS train British nurses or doctors, when it can decimate & cherry pick staff from other countries? ……….but look how liberal we are!

  16. this made the Victoria Derbyshire show this morning (22 April) amazing how ruffled establishment feathers get when their narratives & schemes are debunked

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