Journalist reports worst abuse of 15 years after writing about pandemic sceptic

Former News Letter journalist Sam McBride says that despite covering politics for 15 years, he has never suffered the online abuse he has received after questioning a leading pandemic sceptic.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 8:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th September 2021, 8:51 pm
A nurse works on a patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in St George's Hospital in Tooting, south-west London, where the number of intensive care beds for the critically sick has had to be increased from 60 to 120, the vast majority of which are for coronavirus patients.

Mr McBride started to make inquiries after the recent tragic death of DUP councillor and father-of-two Paul Hamill.

The former mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, aged 46, widely described as ‘a nice guy’ of politics, died earlier this month after contracting Covid.

It later emerged that he had been a devoted follower on social media of leading pandemic sceptic Ivor Cummins, a biochemical engineer from Dublin with 134,000 followers on Twitter. Mr Hamill had often retweeted messages from Mr Cummins.

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In Saturday’s Belfast Telegraph, Mr McBride wrote that “a good man died after too much Covid misinformation” while going on to quiz Mr Cummins about his work.

Mr McBride wrote: “Paul Hamill, 46, was a disciple of Covid sceptic Ivor Cummins. The father of two promoted him with religious zeal. Last month he got Covid & was hospitalised; now he’s dead.”

Sam’s tweets prompted hundreds of social media responses. many of them abusive. Mr Cummins made no such abusive comments.

One tweeter said: “You are absolute scum Sam McBride. In the first Nuremburg trials even journalists were hanged for propagating lies. Shame on you.”

Another branded him “a propagandist embarked on a smear campaign ... Gobbels wouldn’t even put you on the Nazi work experience team”.

A third said: “What a pathetic lowlife you are. I wonder if your parents thought you would turn out this way. What a disappointment, messing up your family name to write rubbish.”

Mr McBride said: “I’ve written about Northern Irish politics for 15 years & inevitably that brings some abuse. But I’ve never got anything like what’s come in the hours since writing about Ivor Cummins. This is just a fraction of it. That makes me more interested in what’s going on here, not less.”

UUP leader Doug Beattie said: “It`s despicable that a journalist should receive the appalling abuse that Sam McBride has just because he was doing his job. Sam is doing us all a favour by highlighting what has been going on.”

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