An angry mob of anti-vaccine protesters stormed what they thought was BBC headquarters in London on Monday, only to discover that they had been grossly misinformed about its location, among other things.
Videos show the protesters trying to push through a police line and charge the doors of the Television Centre in west London on Monday in a misguided attempt to disrupt BBC Television’s operations. They were about eight years too late, as the U.K.’s public broadcaster moved out of that space in 2013.
Angry and confused demonstrators shouted anti-vaccine slogans outside the old building, which is now occupied by residential flats and an ITV studio where the likes of Good Morning Britain and This Morning are shot. The building is operated by BBC Studioworks, a subsidiary of the BBC.
It’s unclear how the conspiracy theory-driven group got the address wrong, especially since you don’t need to be on a 5G network to look it up.
Several ITV hosts shared their accounts of the incident on social media, where they praised police and the building’s security team for keeping the mob at bay.
“The protesters attempted to gain access to the building while were live on air,” tweeted Charlene White, a host of the ITV show Loose Women. “Not sure what protesters were trying to achieve, but all they would have found was me, Jane (Moore), Nadia (Sawalha) and Penny (Lancaster) talking about menopause.”
Former ITV commentator and right-wing pundit Piers Morgan joined others in mocking the misguided protest on social media.
“It’s ITV HQ now, you f***ing imbeciles,” he wrote.
Morgan’s comment provoked an angry response from former Coronation Street actor and anti-vaxxer Sean Ward, who was part of the wayward mob.
“Imbeciles? No, worried mother’s (sic) and fathers actually!” Ward replied.
Morgan fired right back, mocking the actor for peddling conspiracy theories and telling him to “shut up before you cost lives.”
“Somehow I doubt an unhinged, selfish, stupid Z-list actor knows more than the world’s finest scientists,” he wrote.
The mob eventually dispersed, though a smaller crowd did eventually make its way to the BBC’s Broadcasting House location in central London.
The protesters were reportedly railing against a host of COVID-19 safety measures, including masks, vaccines for everyone 16 and older and a plan to issue proof of vaccination to citizens for international travel. They were also upset about lockdowns, though none are currently in place in the U.K.
They were allegedly upset with the BBC for failing to adequately cover their conspiratorial views, many of which are at odds with the current science on the coronavirus.
BBC tightened its security last month amid a surge in threats of violence against its journalists from anti-vax groups.
COVID-19 conspiracy theories continue to abound despite an estimated 4.2 million deaths globally from the virus.
More than 130,200 people have died from the virus in the U.K. to date, though the death rate has plummeted since the country’s vaccination program began earlier this year. More than 4.48 billion vaccine doses have been given out to date around the world.
The BBC declined to comment on the protest.
A police spokesperson said no arrests were made.
— With files from The Associated Press and Reuters