Parliament Square, on an unseasonably warm late October afternoon, three of us were on the ‘Guest List’ to attend the Parliamentary debate on holding a public inquiry into COVID-19 vaccine safety. Many others had been queuing for the last of the 18 seats available in the Public Gallery but for a moment were told of some kind of ‘incident on the estate’ and that Parliament had been locked down. I pressed for more details on this and that problem instantly vanished with now the security officers just having a ‘feeling that there were the wrong kind of people in the queue.’ It is possible that they had heard that a lot of those lobbying outside Parliament were saying they would try to attend the debate.
We certainly had not encouraged this as we knew the debating chamber to be used had very limited public viewing spaces. In the end, one of my colleagues, Anthony Webber, was asked by security to pick just eight people who would be allowed to enter, which was an unenviable task bearing in mind there were up to two hundred people hoping to gain entry.
By the time we had cleared security, just after the start of the debate, Conservative MP and Petitions Committee member Elliot Colburn (pictured above) was already throwing his toys out of the pram. As the petitioner, I had been told, and expected, that as the Petitions Committee member allocated to the task of presenting the petition, he would at least present a summary of the main points of my case before launching into his own opinions.
“A waste of taxpayers money!” he exclaimed. ”Climate change denial, moon landing denial and so on, I am inclined to ignore it completely.”
I wondered if ‘Holocaust Denial’ could also have been on his list. The practice of bringing such irrelevant issues into the discussion is known as ‘mis-association’, a proactive stance of putting out obvious idiocy commingled with ideas they want to suppress to try to discredit the whole.
“I saw a group of anti-vax protesters outside the House today, holding up signs saying, “Vaccines kill,” and, “Would you not believe that pharmaceutical companies kill? “
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” This was my impression from Colburn. All I had asked for was an inquiry into COVID-19 vaccine safety, as might be the case with any other new technology being unleashed upon the mass population. At no point, unlike many well respected health professionals and scientists, had I called for the immediate suspension of the COVID-19 vaccination program. Colburn’s outbursts came across as a kneejerk reaction to any criticism of any Government policy. Of course he’s entitled to his opinions, but as the member of the Petitions Committee chosen to read the ‘Prayer of the petition’ and move the motion of the petition as representative of those in favour of it, it was an abuse of his position and it broke Parliamentary guidelines to taint the whole debate in this manner.
His behaviour begs two questions. Firstly, how can he say this when the U.K. Government does acknowledge that there have been fatalities directly attributed to COVID-19 vaccines. Later on in the debate, Dr. Caroline Johnson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, stated:
(Let me) pass on my sympathies to the very small number of people for whom vaccines may not have worked as intended.
“May not have worked as intended,” meaning it killed some people. COVID-19 vaccines do indeed kill, occasionally, according to official Government statistics. How many and how often is up for debate; this is what I had hoped would be debated in Parliament, and later investigated in a Public Inquiry.
Secondly, what exactly is an ‘anti-vaxxer’? This is important to define because Colburn has attempted to use this as a derogatory term that by association implies people who subscribe only to the fringe of established scientific doctrine.
Arguably the majority of U.K. residents, those who consented to the first two injections but declined a booster shot, are also ‘anti-vaxxers’. In fact, anyone who did not agree to or go ahead with each and every single inoculation in the recommended schedule for themselves or their children to a certain degree could be described, as an ‘anti-vaxxer’.
It only took a few minutes to write the petition. The wording, with my consent, was tweaked by the Petitions Committee only in terms of grammar, so when the petition went live in December 2021 it was a text that had been vetted and published online by Parliament on their own website.
It was intended to ask the reader, Parliament and the British Government: How safe and how effective really are the new COVID-19 vaccines? My call for a public inquiry into this does not specifically suggest nor explicitly state that there definitely are actual issues, rather it is there to establish knowledge close to the truth for the benefit of the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. Of course, deciding that a novel and untested medical treatment is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is not the manner ever used previously to introduce its use in the mass population, especially something that is injected into the body and designed to interfere with the bodies’ fundamental chromosomal processes.
Having said all this, inside the chamber things in general went better than I expected. Maybe that is more of a reflection on my expectations than anything else, but I feel that to have had a number of MPs publicly speak and put on record legitimate concerns about increased deaths, serious illness, stillbirths and falling birth rates for which the COVID-19 vaccines have as yet not been ruled out as the cause, is no small achievement. An extract from the video of this debate, published online by Dr. John Campbell, has subsequently received over 1.3 million views.
The whole debate and transcript is available for viewing online.
I hadn’t expected it to get this far. 107,121 signatures was a significant achievement bearing in mind the petition was ‘no-platformed’ in the mainstream media. 100,000 signatures were needed to qualify for consideration of a Parliamentary debate being given, which eventually did go ahead, withstanding one postponement due to the unusual occurrence of a State Funeral, the death of a monarch being even more rare than the so called ‘rare’ adverse events from COVID-19 vaccines.
The signatures had stalled at around the 60,000 mark very near to the end of the six month period. These signatories were most likely a majority of unvaccinated people that were speculating on the possibility of risk. At this stage, I know that the National Alliance for Freedom and a number of freedom groups gave the petition a major push. In addition, at the 11th hour, a number of groups supporting the COVID-19 vaccine injured and bereaved also picked up the petition, many of which were clearly not ‘anti-vaxxers’, and in a matter of just over a week, almost 50,000 more signatures were gathered from both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.
The Government had responded to my petition when it hit the 10,000 signature mark. My colleague Mike Baker and I put together a robust, fully referenced response to the Government’s response, which received praise from and was published by Norman Fenton, Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary University of London.
This response was sent to all 650 Members of Parliament and sent three times to Elliot Colburn. I have never received any reply from him. At no point during the debate did he refer to any of the crucial points in that analysis, this response being the main strength of my argument in favour of a public inquiry. Clearly he was against such an inquiry ever happening and so he chose to omit presenting information from the petitioner that was pertinent to the issue.
His position, which he confirmed to me in person straight after the debate, is essentially that he’s perfectly happy to have a discussion about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as long as he is only doing so with people that already believe that said vaccines are 100% ‘safe and effective’.
Any colour so long as it’s black.
In his weak defence, having promoted the COVID-19 vaccine to his constituents, perhaps he thinks he has little choice but to defend their use until any evidence that comes out against them is overwhelming. Under the current levels of censorship and bias of the regulatory agencies, this won’t happen overnight. So what channel exists for the petitioner to voice his argument for a Public Inquiry if his allocated spokesperson is against his cause and refuses to represent it? In a court of law that would be totally unacceptable. The Parliamentary Petitions process is presented as some sort of important part of our ‘democracy’ that allows a mass of citizens to effect political change.
This could be seen as an illusion but that would not be entirely true. The relatively new process of being able to start a parliamentary petition has a number of positives. Firstly, it gives citizens a voice to be given to Parliament, especially when local MPs will not help. Secondly, the Government has to reply with petitions over 10,000 signatures. Thirdly, when petitions reach 100,000 signatures, they normally achieve a parliamentary debate.
A number of MPs thanked us for successfully getting the petition debated, as it was the first time Parliament debated the important issue of COVID-19 vaccine safety. Although the Government has said that it will not set up what was asked for, a public inquiry into COVID-19 vaccine safety, this could be another issue where the Government is forced to do a U-turn.
At the end of the debate it was voted that Parliament had indeed debated the subject at hand. The procedure with these debates is they always ‘note’ the debate and there is nothing which makes the Government have to comply with anything.
The key positive is that my petition opened the forbidden door into debating COVID-19 vaccine safety. The Government will never succeed in closing this door again. More new evidence is coming in as every week passes and sooner or later this issue may well bubble up to levels that will require a political response that cannot be a whitewash. We earnestly await and continue to campaign until it does. We will ensure that truth, openness, transparency and justice prevail.
Axel McFarlane co-authored with Anthony Webber.
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