UK COVID-19 Skeptic Fined Over Confrontation With NHS Workers

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is an Irish-based reporter focusing on UK news. Lily first joined the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times before turning her focus on the UK in 2020.
January 19, 2022Updated: January 19, 2022

An English woman who filmed empty hospital corridors while questioning “where’s all the people dying from the second wave” in December 2020 was convicted on Wednesday.

Debbie Hicks, 47, was found guilty of a charge under the Public Order Act of using threatening words or behaviour likely to cause harassment over a brief confrontation with two NHS workers.

The former psychologist and teacher received a fine of £120 ($164). She was also ordered to pay £775 ($1,056) prosecution costs to the Crown Prosecution Service and a victim surcharge of £34 ($46).

In a video posted on Facebook, Hicks characterised the court decision as being”political,” adding she will appeal and “take this to the top” if necessary. She also asked her followers to share her crowd-funding page to help raise legal fees.

Hicks went to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester, England, both on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28, 2020, when parts of England, including Gloucester, were put under tier three restrictions over the emergence of the Alpha CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus variant.

In a video shared online, Hicks was heard saying “Where’s the second wave? Where’s [sic] all the people dying from the second wave? Where are they” while filming the mostly empty hospital grounds and corridors.

She went on to say it was “proof” that people are under lockdown “for this, for an empty hospital.”

“All the people in our country desperately waiting for treatment, cancer treatment, heart disease. Look at this,” she said, adding she was angered by the scene.

The hospital later said parts of the areas were closed over Christmas, and that it was treating 200 patients with COVID-19 at the time.

Hicks was confronted on a stairwell in the hospital during her second visit by occupational therapist Katie Williams and senior physiotherapist Sophie Brown, who recognised her voice from the video she recorded on the previous day and live-streamed on Facebook.

After a brief confrontation, Hicks left after security was called, and she was arrested from her home the following day.

Brown has told the court that Hicks behaved disrespectfully and violated her personal space.

“We worked so hard so to say that what we were doing was a sham put us all on edge,” Brown told the court, which also heard that the staff were aware of the comments on Hicks’ video by “anti-vaxxers” online.

During a trial earlier this month, Hicks had denied using threatening and abusive words towards the women.

She told the court she was attempting to demonstrate to the public that government restrictions were disproportionate, and the hospital was not overflowing with patients.

Lawyers representing Hicks argued her conduct was “reasonable” in the circumstances and that she had a right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They also suggested the prosecution was not “proportionate” in interfering with Hicks’ rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

District Judge Nicholas Wattam said Hicks “did not seek confrontation, but confrontation did develop.”

He also said Williams and Brown had given evidence that was “cogent, credible, and without exaggeration” and that he had “no doubt” the pair “felt threatened” by Hicks’ words and behaviour.

“She was aggressive and dismissive of them and tried to record a non-consenting interview of them while holding a mobile phone,” the judge said.

“They were distressed by her and both told me that they were intimidated by her and that they were frightened they would be streamed online.”

He added that the therapists “were aware of the footage the previous day and found her running commentary distressing.”

“Taken together, Mrs Hicks’ behaviour did amount to harassment and the words used were threatening and abusive,” he said.

He also told Hicks that “there were other ways to express your views,” and said Williams and Brown did not “deserve to be molested by Mrs Hicks when at work and should be protected by the law.”

In mitigation, Barrister Merry Van Woodenburg said the registered psychologist and teacher “does not have a job and lost any opportunity of employment,” and that “her defence was funded by others who have similar public concerns.”

Hicks told the court she’s living on her husband’s salary and the couple is “in debt and struggling.”

PA contributed to this report.

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