A preacher who sold bogus £91 kits to ward off coronavirus warned his flock they could die if they didn’t buy them, a court has heard.
Bishop Climate Wiseman, 47, who preaches at the Kingdom Church in Camberwell, South London, claimed the kits could cure Covid-19 sufferers and prevent people contracting the illness.
The faith healer has gone on trial accused of one count of fraud and two counts of engaging in unfair commercial practice over the year between 23 March 2020 and 24 March 2021.
He claimed his mixture, made from cedarwood, hyssop oil and olive oil, had cured at least 10 people who had the virus and that investigators probing him were “the antichrist”.
Jurors were told the faithful could purchase kits through the bishopclimateblog.com, prophet-climate.com, and prophetclimate.net by signing a Prayer Agreement Form.
They could also use the form to make donations without buying the kits.
Bishop Wiseman said in a blog that by using the mixture, which had sat upon the altar for seven days next to a scarlet yarn, the ingredients would “act like an invisible barrier” and that “coronavirus and any other deadly thing” would pass over the user, prosecutors said.
Inner London Crown Court heard the kits were considerably more expensive than other items he was selling, and that his sales pitches were all motivated by money.
In an instructional video, he said people with the bug should put their head under a towel over which some boiling water imbued with the oil.
He claimed his concoction kills the virus because it “can’t stand the power of the oil” and said after inhalation Covid is coughed out of the body and “just dies.”
He urged faithful viewers not to do nothing and buy the kits as soon as possible or they “may end up dropping dead.”
Testimonial videos claimed a woman with no sense of taste and high temperature felt “much better” after drinking some of it, and that a family had been cleared of “any symptoms of coronavirus” which had “completely disappeared.”
He also said on his website that a woman who was so ill she called paramedics was cured after a friend gave her the oil and that a nurse in Yorkshire had recovered three days after taking it.
Trading standards from Southwark Council were first made aware of the so-called cure on 24 March 2020, the first full day of the first lockdown, which was being advertised on his bishopclimateblog.com.
On 31 March they contacted the Bishop and asked him to remove any mention of the supposed coronavirus-curing powers of the kits.
Some claims were removed but he still claimed the kits offered “divine protection during the coronavirus plague”.
His church was also being investigated by the Charity Commission, which was investigating the Kingdom Church GB, a charity which Bishop Wiseman and his wife were trustees of until summer 2020.
It was aware that the oil was being sold as a coronavirus cure through a website linked to the charity, and Bishop Wiseman was asked to ensure that all links between the charity and Bishop Climate Ministries were severed immediately.
He said they were not sold through the Kingdom Church and that neither he nor the church claimed to cure the virus.
He later said he sold the oils through ‘Bishop Climate Ministries’.
However, a separate probe by undercover reporters, who bought the oil at the Kingdom Church, found people acting in his name did claim it could cure coronavirus.
People answering the phone on behalf of Bishop Climate Ministries said the oil could provide ‘protection from corona’ and had cured at least 10 symptomatic people.
One woman on the phone, who called herself Minister Sharon, said the oil meant we could go ‘near people’ but reminded the caller of government advice on social distancing.
She said ‘when you’ve got this oil you are very much protected’ and that the user ‘should not be able to get it from anyone or give it to anyone’.
She told the caller, who claimed to work in the building trade, that the oil allowed people to be near each other indoors at work, that she had been cured after testing positive herself and that sniffing the oil would remove the need to go to hospital.
After the undercover investigation on 29 April 2020, he denied he or any of his staff had misled anyone.
Despite this, he still claimed his oil worked, that he was healing the nation which he was obliged to ‘as a prophet’ and someone ‘who God had used… in miracles.’
Material about the oils were still found online when trading standards probed again in January 2021.
Wiseman, from Camberwell, appeared in the dock wearing bishop’s regalia and showed little emotion as the case against him was read out.
Richard Heller, for the prosecution, told jurors the case dates back to “a time I imagine most of us would prefer to forget.”
He added: “The defendant may seek to portray this trial as a challenge to his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, but I want to make clear from the outset that it is no such thing.
“Undoubtedly, the defendant portrays himself as having strongly held views.
“He also portrays himself as a vessel for God’s will and a miracle worker.
“This trial is not about his right to hold or practise those beliefs.
“The right to freedom of religion, which we all enjoy, does not permit a person to make false claims in the process of taking money for a product that simply isn’t capable of doing what you claim.
“To suggest, as the defendant might, that the manner in which religion is practised is incapable of conflicting with the criminal law is to misunderstand its reach.
“To be clear, the prosecution says the promotion of the oil sold by the defendant, under whatever name he chose to give it, was little more than exploitative commercial opportunism disguised as an article of faith.
“The claims made both by the defendant and in his name can’t possibly have been true.
“Whatever beliefs the defendant may hold, it doesn’t confer the right to sell bogus cures to fatal illnesses.
“He is not above the law and his faith isn’t exempt from its prohibitions.
“This case doesn’t concern the question of how one should exercise one’s faith, of how you should pray or which divine power you should pray to.
“It concerns an exhortation to use a product of quite literally no medicinal value that had to be bought at a high cost and was not capable of doing what the defendant and his spokesmen claimed it could.”
The court heard a disclaimer was later added to his blog where he said the oil had nothing to do with the Kingdom Church and another was added to videos where he said he had never claimed he could cure people with the illness.
He also claims he did not make a profit from the kits.
No treatments for coronavirus were approved by UK medical regulators until June 2020 and only a handful of vaccines and medicines are in use today.
Bishop Wiseman denies all three charges.
The trial continues and is expected to last until the middle of next week.