Anti-vax ‘legal’ letter threat to JEP columnist

A BROADCASTER has vowed to carry on extolling the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination in spite of receiving a legal threat following a recent JEP column.

Gary Burgess, ITV Channel journalist and JEP columnist. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31336498)
Gary Burgess, ITV Channel journalist and JEP columnist. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31336498)

Gary Burgess, who writes regularly for the JEP in addition to his work at ITV Channel television and Channel 103 radio, received a three-page letter earlier this week days after an article about vaccination was published and widely shared.

Mr Burgess said the letter followed multiple online comments that indicated he was being targeted by the ‘anti-vax’ lobby.

‘The letter didn’t mention a specific column or broadcast, but the timing suggests to me that it was last Saturday’s JEP column that triggered this,’ he said.

Postmarked from the UK and apparently using a ‘copy-and-paste’ technique that listed the addressee as ‘The Hon Gary Burgess’, the letter called on Mr Burgess to publish evidence for all the claims he made about vaccination, reserving the right to take legal action if he did not.

He said: ‘I was quite taken aback at first by the onslaught on social media, which included some possibly libellous comments, but by the time the letter arrived on Wednesday I was seeing the funny side.

‘To me it’s like water off a duck’s back in that I choose to put myself out there on social media and that comes with pros as well as brickbats, but it would be different if a letter like that was landing on the desk of a younger or inexperienced journalist who didn’t have the support of people around them.’

Mr Burgess said that while he loved robust debate, and respected individuals’ rights to choose not to have a Covid jab, he considered it pointless to share facts with the anti-vax lobby.

‘They have their own counter-factuals from the dark recesses of the internet,’ he said. ‘What saddens me is that there may be some good people out there who think the anti-vax argument is legitimate and are getting brainwashed by it.

‘As far as I am concerned, from the World Health Organisation to Becky Sherrington leading the vaccination programme in Jersey, all the scientific evidence shows that vaccination is the key to getting the world – and Jersey – out of this pandemic, so I will just be carrying on.’

Mr Burgess said the negative online comments, many of which appeared to originate from automatic robot accounts, had been countered by a larger volume of ‘heartwarming’ support from Islanders who were backing his efforts to promote the benefits of vaccination.

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