UK Doctor Appeals Social Media Ban Over COVID-19 ‘Misinformation’

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
November 5, 2021 Updated: November 5, 2021

A British doctor banned from discussing COVID-19 on social media for raising concerns of the safety of vaccines and usefulness of masks is appealing the decision at the High Court, arguing his freedom of speech is under “severe” restriction.

Dr. Samuel White, a partner at Denmead Practice in Hampshire until his resignation in February, is seeking to quash restrictions imposed on him which include barring him from sharing his views on social media relating to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

He was penalised by the General Medical Council (GMC), a public body that maintains the UK’s official register of medical practitioners after he posted a video to Instagram and Twitter in June.

In the seven-minute clip, Dr. White discussed why he could no longer work in his previous roles because of the “lies” around the pandemic which were “so vast” he could no longer “stomach or tolerate” them, the court was told.

He also raised concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, the testing methods, and said, “masks do nothing.”

The video triggered complaints that it allegedly contained “misinformation,” and the GMC’s Interim Orders Tribunal concluded in August that Dr. White’s way of sharing his views “may have a real impact on patient safety.”

The tribunal ruled that Dr. White must not share views on the pandemic and “its associated aspects” on social media and must remove existing posts on the subject.

Arguing against the ban, Dr. White’s barrister Francis Hoar told a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday: “This is a claim about freedom of expression of a doctor, in particular his freedom to engage in medical, scientific, and political debate and discussion.”

In written arguments, Hoar said Dr. White had an “unblemished career” and his beliefs were informed by “libertarian principles.”

He said Dr. White’s views were “supported by large bodies of scientific and medical opinion” and had been “statements of fact and opinions about pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions in response to the pandemic.”

He said the tribunal had erred in “failing to accord sufficient respect for Dr. White’s right to freedom of expression.”

Alexis Hearnden, for the GMC, said in written arguments that Dr. White’s views “ran firmly against” a national public health programme that was pro-vaccine and encouraged mask wearing in certain settings.

She said the tribunal had recognised “serious concerns” raised that he was “using some language that echoed conspiracy theories about the pandemic.”

She said the conditions were “justified” by a “legitimate aim of pursuing public safety and for the protection of health.”

PA contributed to this report.