Pub giant Wetherspoon has said it will take down posters from venues that some claim “spread misinformation” about coronavirus.
Pages from the company’s magazine ‘Wetherspoon News’ were made available to download and put in pub windows.
But this caused a backlash from punters on social media, where one Wetherspoon pub put up posters from a news story published on November 20 last year, which questioned the need for a national lockdown.
One Twitter user pointed out the Catford pub in Lewisham is “500m from Lewisham Hospital, which is full of Covid patients,” and accused the pub chain of encouraging people “to ignore the lockdown restrictions”.
One of the posters makes reference to an article which challenged the government’s response to Covid, written by freelance journalist Ross Clark.
Clark told the Daily Star he did not know the pub were using the piece in his posters and said his piece was intended to present data that helped put Covid “in perspective”.
He said: “While I have written some pieces which are critical of lockdown, the point of the piece in question was to present the data to help people put the situation in perspective.
“I think it is vital to do this because the constant presentation of deaths tolls and worst-case scenarios has affected the mental health of many people.
“All the data presented were correct at the time — which is why the Department of Health and Social Care withdrew their remarks about the piece being misleading.”
The posters were criticised online by Twitter users who claimed the posters were “spreading misinformation” that could “cause harm” if believed.
“I was already never visiting one again because of their CEO’s opinions on Brexit, but this is another reason,” one wrote.
Another said: “Despicable. I will never go to a Wetherspoon again after this is over.”
One user said: “It’s not a question of opinion. They are blatantly wrong. They are spreading misinformation which, if believed, will cause harm by people then not taking the situation sufficiently seriously.”
Users also suggested the posters have been put up in other Wetherspoons locations, with one user claiming: “I saw the ones in Brockley the other day and thought it was a bit much.”
A Wetherspoon spokesman said: “The heading for the posters is ‘Read all about it’, which refers to the online edition of Wetherspoon News.
“The online edition has articles by most leading newspapers including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, New Statesman, Daily Telegraph and The Independent.
“Having said that the posters have been up for six weeks and it is fair to say that a few of the comments are out of date.
“We intend to take the posters down from all Wetherspoon pubs in the next few days.
“It is vital in a democracy to have an informed debate.
“As a result there may be an opportunity to replace the posters with more up to date articles in due course.”