UK government spied on citizens over COVID views: 'Too Orwellian. Too horrible'

Monday night, YouTube personality Dr. John Campbell covered a story that he said was "too Orwellian, too horrible."

For those not familiar with Campbell, I'll refer to his interview with Russell Brand in February of 2022.  Brand introduced Campbell as

a retired nurse educator who holds a Master of Science in health science and Ph.D. in nursing.  He has come to prominence lately due to his YouTube channel that gained popularity during the pandemic.  Audiences enjoy his content as he endeavors to present medical data that is often unaddressed in mainstream media in an objective and educational manner.

YouTube screen grab.

Since his first COVID-related video, simply titled "Coronavirus," on January 26, 2020, Campbell has produced nearly daily videos covering every aspect of the virus and the pandemic.

For three years, subscribers have watched Campbell interpret every piece of scientific data that's been released concerning both the virus and the jabs.  Methodically showing viewers news highlights fresh from his printer, and accentuating text with his fountain pen, his rational calmness and "concerned father" demeanor have established him as a trusted and steady source of valuable information.

Lately, he's questioned the safety and efficacy of COVID "vaccines" with videos such as "Immunology of mRNA vaccines" and "Excess deaths in all age groups."  He's crafted his words carefully so as not to alarm YouTube censors.

Monday night, he began his latest video by saying he hadn't been sure if he was going to post it or not.  These are heavy words from the laid-back Campbell.  Nervously scratching his head, he continued to tell his viewers that "it turns out there's been a covert military operation observing U.K. citizens during the pandemic."

He continues to show us a clip of General Nick Carter, chief of the Defense Staff, telling British citizens back in 2020 that U.K. (pandemic) military efforts have been "entirely in support of our heroic health care workers on the front line."  Campbell is about to prove Carter a liar, without saying it.

He works his way to the crux of his video: a recent article by the British paper The Mail on Sunday, exposing information they received from the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch.  It's an explosive article that begins, "A shadowy Army unit secretly spied on British citizens who criticised the Government's Covid lockdown policies" and "an operation that targeted politicians and high-profile journalists who raised doubts about the official pandemic response."

Campbell takes us back in time to tell us that some of this information came out before.  In 2021, the U.K. Defence Journal reported:

Last year, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter revealed that 77th Brigade was involved in countering misinformation online relating to Coronavirus.  It is understood that this effort has now ended, with 77th Brigade keen to point out that their capabilities were not used against British citizens.

The journal goes on to explain that the 77th Brigade uses "non-lethal forms of psychological warfare" on social media like Twitter and Facebook — to defeat Russian "disinformation."  It assures the British citizenry that "[t]he flood of inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, especially with coronavirus."  But they tell their readers that it's all over now ... nothing to see here, move along.

Campbell then brings us up to this past Sunday in The Telegraph and the article titled "Army's 'information warfare' unit monitored Covid lockdown critics" with the subheading "Whistleblower reveals specialist military team spent time 'monitoring the social media posts of ordinary, scared people.'"

"It looks like [only] one narrative was allowed, and the army was used to monitor," Campbell says.  "Well, we can't really say more than that."  But he does say more than that.  He observes:

People like you and me were being monitored by this military unit[.] ... I had posts deleted during this time (of military monitoring); I had videos deleted during this time and I'm sure you did as well.  And still we're not free to say what we want to say; not by any means.  We really should have freedom of speech in the United Kingdom, in the United States; but at the moment we don't and that is a situation I couldn't have believed in my youth.

The brigade should have been monitoring for foreign influence instead of monitoring citizens, he said.  He explains that he himself was subjected to such influence:

I was subjected to it at the time in 2020, I didn't succumb to it but it was there[.] ... I'm not going to name the governments involved but ... [they] did try and influence me. 

Speaking of the British Counter Disinformation Unit discussed in the U.K. press, Campbell begins to snicker, "It's just too Orwellian.  It's just too horrible[.] ... I mean talk about the 'Ministry of Truth,' dear me."

Perhaps the most disturbing thing revealed in the British papers is that the army compiled dossiers on public figures:

[D]ossiers (were compiled) on public figures such as ex-Minister David Davis, who questioned the modelling behind alarming death toll predictions, as well as journalists such as Peter Hitchens (Christopher Hitchens brother) and Toby Young.  Their dissenting views were then reported back to No. 10.

"Quite what the central government did (with these) reports, we don't' really know," Campbell said.

He sums up his video with a story that many people can relate to, one that is now sadly applicable to many aspects of the pandemic:

I remember at the time people (talking about) the 77th Brigade and I was vaguely aware it existed, but I certainly didn't believe it was being used to monitor the UK population.  I put that in the conspiracy theory bucket.  And I now recognize my naivety.

Susan D. Harris can be reached at

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