COMPANIES are distancing themselves from two former BBC presenters who have been cashing in on dangerous conspiracy theories and providing platforms for pedlars of inaccurate health information – with one even promoting a link to buy potentially harmful drugs that have not passed vital safety trials in the UK.
Both Emma Kenny and Anna Brees have been slammed by members of the public for exploiting the pandemic for their own ends – with Brees, although not as well-known as Mrs Kenny, accused by an abuse survivor of theft, and even promoting a link for people to buy a drug from overseas that has not passed relevant checks in the UK, and that could allegedly prove fatal to people with underlying health conditions.
Anna Brees, who recently had some of her YouTube videos removed for spreading false information, and who has also been demonetized, is no stranger to scandal and questionable ethics.
Not only has she made comments in support of David Icke, who believes that the royal family are really ‘lizards from outer space’, but Brees frequently focuses on promoting conspiracy theories and has an extensive record of supporting far-right ‘Qanon’ – a movement with roots in antisemitism that has directly led to mental health problems and even acts of domestic terrorism.
“Q is very real, it’s not a conspiracy”, Anna has claimed, as well as promoting Pizzagate – another antisemitic conspiracy theory that was fully debunked by VoteWatch, the New York Times, and various other outlets.
Despite now attempting to claim that she had never espoused the extremist ideology spewed by the debunked movement, Brees’ past tweets prove otherwise, with her frequently promoting Qanon, adding Qanon hashtags into her social media posts, and was also once billed as a speaker for a pro-Qanon event in the UK.
Bizarrely, when the BBC’s Marianna Spring began exposing the Qanon movement and other conspiracy theories promoted by Anna Brees, Brees released a video claiming that the BBC’s debunking of disinfo was ‘dangerous’ and would lead to civil unrest.
In a more intriguing incident, Brees found her credibility heavily scrutinised after releasing a book (The Meat Rack Boy) that contained demonstrable falsehoods and inconsistencies relating to child abuse claims against the late PM Edward Heath.
Suspiciously, Brees claims that the subject of the book, Mike Tarraga – a genuine abuse victim, stated whilst off camera that he had been sexually abused by Heath whilst on the Prime Minister’s boat.
Well-established magazine Private Eye, however, ran a damning article after noticing discrepancies between the ‘memoir’ Meat Rack Boy written by Brees about Tarraga, and Tarraga’s previous self-published memoir, The Successful Failure: Life of an Uncouth Lout.
Both books tell essentially the same story, with the notable exception that in the Brees Media version, Tarraga is reported as claiming to have been sexually abused by Sir Edward Heath – an accusation completely absent from his original account.
‘I knew this would draw attention to his story and it has’, Brees confessed to the Eye. ‘As a journalist I knew what the ‘headline’ would be for others, so pursued this in my interview and added it to the book.’
The Private Eye article stated that further inconsistencies were found between the two books, but that Brees had “refused to answer any more questions after the Eye challenged her to explain the contradictions”.
Following up on their shocking investigation into Brees and the book, Private Eye published yet another interesting article, headlined ‘Bumbling Brees’:
One claim reported by Brees in the below video is that the alleged abuse by Edward Heath took place in 1962.
However, upon closer scrutiny of the book (published by Brees’ own company) it was confirmed that “Heath was out of UK for all but 7 days late June-mid Sept 1962. Those 7 days accounted for. He was negotiating UK entry to the Common Market – so well covered in the media.”
The claim that Heath abused Tarraga onboard his boat was also debunked by John Campbell’s biography of the former PM, in which he confirmed that Heath did not take up sailing until 1966.
Reacting to the Private Eye’s findings, Brees seemingly panicked and filmed a video with the abuse victim.
In the exchange, Brees appeared to attempt to control the victim’s narrative, and Tarraga described Heath’s alleged sexual abuse, but then dismissed it as “of no sodding consequence whatsoever”; with Brees confirming that inserting the Heath story into the second version of the book had been her idea:
“The thing is, Michael, I picked up on the Edward Heath incident” she said. “It wasn’t a major incident.”
Brees’ downplaying of an alleged act of child abuse by a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is, in itself bizarre and suspicious.
The opportunist then went on to accidentally contradict herself about where profits from the book were going.
Having previously claimed that the funds would be spent on an event for child abuse victims, she said: “And in the grand scheme of things, that’s what journalists do, they realise what the headline is, the headline that you didn’t pick up on, we put it in the book, and every single penny of that book is going towards training people to get that message out on new media platforms.
The ‘training’ that Brees is referencing is in fact her own private company, Brees Media Ltd, and the cash raised by the book and by her other outlets, did not go towards what she’d promised, but rather into Brees profiting by teaching mainly businesses on how to record and edit footage using a mobile phone and basic equipment.
On Brees’ website, she claims to have clients that include Lloyds Bank, Public Health Wales, Sports Wales, and a golfing club.
Brees portrays herself as someone with extensive inside knowledge of the BBC, yet was only a BBC employee for around a year, and only as a presenter on BBC Wales’ ‘X-Ray’ – a programme whose recent pieces focused on issues such as complaints over car parking.
An insider from BBC Wales said: “I can’t comment on Anna Brees’ employment other than to say that she wasn’t with us long”.
When asked for confirmation of Brees’ claim that the BBC had ‘begged her to come back’, the source said: “That’s certainly a stretch of the truth, to put it mildly”.
Emma Kenny on the other hand, is someone who does indeed have a relatively comprehensive past with the BBC.
In one of her latest dangerous and misleading videos, Kenny berated Brexit, stating that it had only come to pass because white men and politicians had lied to the British electorate, before going on to give some of her views on the current pandemic that has so far claimed over 52,000 lives in the UK alone.
“Brexit was done because we got lied to. The Tories getting in by a landslide was done because of lies” she said. “…there’s a group of people who want to take over the world behind the government. Again, even though that sounds conspiracy-based, just think about this – colonialism; our entire history, rich white men have always wanted to take over the world. So it’s no big deal. It’s nothing new”.
“There’s always been people behind the scenes pulling strings with money and bribes and wanting things to be done their way” Kenny continued, trying to weave an odd connection between the past and the current pandemic. “That IS rich white men for you” she then offensively stereotyped again. “They’ve always lied to us. They’ve rarely had our interests at heart…. so you’re awake, and you’re seeing it… and we’re going to pull them back in check”.
Kenny has also been retweeting anti-vaxxer comments and accounts almost daily to her 56,000 followers and producing other dangerous videos, including one in which she told her audience that a Coronavirus vaccine ‘really isn’t necessary’, that she would not be letting her children have the vaccine, and promoted the idea that people should refuse to take it.
Most shockingly of all, the crime show presenter has been caught using a service intended to provide mental health support to promote her conspiracy theories to vulnerable members of the public – peddling her paranoia and unfounded claims to people already suffering from anxiety and other forms of mental illness. In one such ‘mental health support group’, Kenny even shockingly tells vulnerable people that the government are out to get them and are ‘not happy that people aren’t dying’.
When challenged about her comments and particularly over her racist claims against white men, the Radio 1 contributor and resident self-proclaimed psychologist on ITV’s This Morning, along with her husband, threatened legal action and claimed that racism towards white people does not exist because white people ‘are not the minority’.
In a further twist, Emma’s qualifications and credibility has been questioned by practising psychologists & NHS staff, including Dr Sharon Lambert and Roshana Mehdian-Staffell, who called her out for claiming to be a psychologist – including on the television shows she stars in.
Kenny recently became the subject of a Private Eye article:
Meanwhile, fellow conspiracy nut Anna Brees has also come under further fire from the national press.
In one of the damning articles, this time published by The Guardian, the paper said: “Brees has given extensive airtime to dissemination of baseless conspiracy theories about links between 5G technology and Covid-19 and has posted about “just asking questions” concerning Pizzagate, the baseless QAnon theory that led to real-world violence and harassment. YouTube confirmed that it had acted on a number of occasions to remove footage posted by Brees for breaching guidelines on medical misinformation.”
Brees denied spreading conspiracy theories, claiming that she had “never once promoted 5G or an anti-vaccination agenda”.
This, however, is quickly proven to be a lie when looking back at her media posts and videos.
She has since been slammed by Mike Tarraga, whom she ‘exploited’ to profit from his book, with the abuse victim calling her a ‘scammer’ and accusing her of copyright theft.
Brees, who was criticised for jumping to Jeremy Corbyn’s defence and communicating with far-left antisemitic website ‘The Canary’, currently makes money from various sources, including the subscription site Patreon, from which she rakes in over £2,000 per month by duping her followers with disinformation.
On Patreon, Anna claims to her paying subscribers that: “My mission is to protect children, hold the media to account, and expose corruption. Every penny you donate here, will be spent on that”.
Yet she has so far failed to provide any evidence that she has ever ‘protected’ children, and has not exposed corruption through her channel.
Recently, Brees was mocked for lying that her campaigning had led to school children in Wales being able to return to school without social distancing – despite it having nothing to do with her, but rather the government’s decision following a reduction in Covid cases. This fact was also confirmed in the article that Brees foolishly included in her self-congratulatory tweet:
Brees has contradicted herself on countless occasions, including misleading her audience once again over where the money they donate to her is being spent, claiming that “I am now working full-time on the Covid-19 crisis. Providing a platform for voices from all over the world”. This, on her Patreon account, is accompanied by a statement saying that all donations go to protecting children.
At the time of publication, Brees continues to promote bizarre conspiracy theories on social media, including this past week claiming that vaccination passports were ‘probably the agenda all along. To tag us all…”, and then going on to state that citizens would be microchipped – another conspiracy theory that went viral during the pandemic.
Dr Stuart Ritchie, a lecturer at King’s College London, said that one of the challenges of holding such figures to account was that they often posed discredited theories as if they were “just asking questions about it” – a tactic demonstrated throughout many of Brees’ socials media posts.
Meanwhile, Patreon told us that it was investigating and issued the following statement:
“With our recent policy update, we are now carefully conducting reviews to ensure that Patreon is not supporting efforts to miseducate the public on COVID-19. We have a thorough content policy and evaluation process, which takes time. If we find that any creators’ content falls outside of our guidelines, we will reach out and work with them 1:1 to ensure their content remains within our guidelines.”
The subscription-focused platform also updated its policy relating to its service being used by social media influencers to cash in on disinformation. https://blog.patreon.com/an-update-to-patreons-policies-on-covid-19-related-medical-misinformation
YouTube also issued a statement after being made aware of the issue:
“YouTube has Community Guidelines including policies that prohibit COVID-19 content that explicitly contradicts expert consensus from the NHS or the World Health Organization and we removed flagged videos that violate these policies. We also have strict policies that govern what kind of videos we allow ads to appear on, and we enforce these advertising policies vigorously. Videos that promote harmful or dangerous acts or theories are not allowed to monetize.”
“In this case, we reviewed the videos flagged to us and took appropriate action” it a spokesperson for YouTube added.
A spokesperson from Careers Wales said: “Careers Wales commissioned Brees Media to undertake some video training with a group of staff in 2018. Our past work with this company in no way reflects any endorsement of the personal views held by anyone in the Brees Media company.”
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said:
“This training was arranged by an operating company on behalf of Traffic Scotland a number of years ago. They would therefore have been unaware of the future views of Ms Brees, a former BBC journalist, at the time, as the training session pre-dated her public comments about Covid-19.
“Traffic Scotland has played a key role in raising awareness of travel restrictions and public health safety advice around car-sharing, public transport and social distancing during the pandemic.
“It goes without saying that her comments do not represent the views of Traffic Scotland who continue to work tirelessly to keep Scotland safe. Ms Brees is being asked to remove any endorsement from Traffic Scotland from her website.”
Upon being shown Anna Brees’ claim that Lloyds Bank is one of her clients, a spokesperson for Lloyds confirmed that they had searched their records and that “we do not recognise any of the information mentioned.”