The This Morning host Eamonn Holmes was criticised by scientists and viewers for comments he made about conspiracy theories linking 5G technology and coronavirus on the ITV show. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove called the conspiracy theory that links the two “dangerous nonsense”.
An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed the regulator had received 419 complaints and said: "We are assessing this programme in full as a priority."
Holmes, 60, said in a statement live on This Morning: “I want to clarify some comments that some of you may have misinterpreted from me yesterday, around conspiracy theories and coronavirus and this involved the roll out of 5G.
“Both Alice Beer and myself agreed in a discussion on this very programme on fake news, that it is not true that there is a connection between the present national health emergency and 5G, and to suggest otherwise would be wrong and indeed it could be possibly dangerous.
“Every theory relating to such a connection has been proven to be false and we would like to emphasise that.
“However, many people are rightly concerned and are looking for answers, and that’s simply what I was trying to impart yesterday.
“But for the avoidance of any doubt I want to make it clear there’s no scientific evidence to substantiate any of those 5G theories.”
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Holmes was presenting the show with wife Ruth Langsford on Monday, when he responded to co-presenter Alice Beer branding the conspiracy theories which link 5G technology and coronavirus “ridiculous” and “incredibly stupid”.
Holmes spoke out, saying: “It’s very easy to say it is not true because it suits the state narrative”.
He told Beer: “I totally agree with everything you are saying but what I don’t accept is mainstream media immediately slapping that down as not true when they don’t know it’s not true.
“No-one should attack or damage or do anything like that but it’s very easy to say it is not true because it suits the state narrative.”
The presenter added: “That’s all I would say, as someone with an inquiring mind.”
His made the remarks after scientists dismissed any link, calling it a “physical and biological impossibility” and branding, “conspiracy theorists… a public health danger”.
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton told HuffPost: “The world of infectious disease experts, covering a wide range of disciplines, backgrounds, countries and employers are united in that we know how transmission of a virus works.
“Holmes is not known for his scientific expertise and appears to have very little in the way of relevant qualifications, experience or any kind of written track record in peer-reviewed journals.”
MPs have called for social media companies to be held to account following reports of phone masts being attacked after theories spread online.
Ofcom is already assessing comments made by David Icke about coronavirus on local TV network London Live.
The media watchdog previously ruled that a local radio station had breached its rules after one of its guests suggested the COVID-19 outbreak was caused by the rollout of 5G mobile technology.
A government spokesman said: “We are aware of a number of attacks on phone masts and abuse of telecoms engineers apparently inspired by crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online.
“Those responsible for these criminal acts will face the full force of the law.”
Additional reporting by PA