Newcastle University’s Civic Journalism Lab Scrubs Reference to Hosting Conspiracy Theorist

22 June: a Tweet from Newcastle University’s Civic Journalism Lab (Civic J-Lab):

Free online masterclass in mobile journalism @UniofNewcastle with Anna Brees, this Wednesday 4pm (UK time) – everyone welcome, whether you’re a journalist or someone who does “acts of journalism”. Register here: [link]

A Tweet by Brees herself is embedded after this text, in which she refers to “a free training event this week thanks to @UniofNewcastle”.

The Civic J-Lab Tweet has since been deleted, but it currently remains visible on Google Cache. This also shows that the Lab’s Tweet received a scathing response from Nick Waters, an investigator with Bellingcat:

Hi @CivicJLab: how familiar are you with Brees’ form of “journalism”? Have you checked her past work? I suggest it might be something you would would want to do. I would also strongly suggest she is not someone who should be teaching any form of journalism.

“Bob from Brockley” then followed up by drawing attention to Tweets commending her work posted in the name of David Icke.

Brees claims that the BBC has falsified reportage on the Syria conflict, but she is also notorious for promoting exotic conspiracy theories referencing the Illuminati and the American “Pizzagate” and “Qanon” fantasies (although more recently she seems to have gone off “Q”). Last year I noted how she had republished a book by a man who says he was abused while in care as a child in the 1960s, her edition gaining extra publicity due to a new chapter accusing former Prime Minister Edward Heath of being one of the abusers.

According to Private Eye magazine (1525, p. 14), which drew attention to Civic J-Lab deleting social media posts, the event in Newcastle went ahead as planned. However, Brees’s profile was greatly raised the very next day, when the media noted an online interview she had conducted with the musician Robbie Williams. The Metro report is representative:

Robbie Williams suggests debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory is true in bizarre interview

Robbie Williams has suggested the Pizzagate conspiracy theory hasn’t truly been debunked in a bizarre new interview. The 46-year-old sat down for an interview with journalist Anna Brees, and in a teaser clip from the second part of the interview, the Rock DJ singer appears to question the validity of a conspiracy theory alleging that several high-ranking Democratic Party officials and U.S. restaurants were involved in an alleged human trafficking and child sex ring.

Brees is quoted as describing all this as “one of the most brave and insightful interviews of his career”.

So why has Civic J-Lab deleted its Tweet advertising her event? There is no need to remove a Tweet just because an event is in the past, and the inference must be that they now find association with Brees to be embarrassing.

Prior to her interview with Williams, Brees recently spoke with the rent-a-quote Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen on “corruption within the govt and media”, and she is currently cultivating links with school lockdown sceptics such as a GP named Rick O’Shea (her stance here has cost her some support among left-leaning conspiracy theorists). Other notable figures recently added to her YouTube archive include the physicist Joshua Silver, the high-profile anti-lockdown activist Simon Dolan, and a former Royal Marine commando turned author named Chris Thrall. (1)


(1) Thrall has his own podcast, and as with Brees its media profile was recently raised due to an interview with Robbie WIlliams, in which Williams declared the end of his longstanding “feud” (i.e. mutually beneficial performative showbiz spat) with the musician Liam Gallagher. Thrall has also helped to promote Brees’s own interview with Williams, stating that the Pizzagate conspiracy theory was “widely ACCEPTED” rather than debunked. Thrall also used the QAnon hashtag in his Tweet.