Protesters in London earlier this year. Photo: Loredana Sangiuliano/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
A solicitor at the centre of a misinformation campaign who attempted to shut down the UK’s COVID vaccination programme by sending legal threats to schools and medical centres faces being struck off after she was referred to a disciplinary tribunal.Lois Bayliss, director of Sheffield law firm Broad Yorkshire Law, was the author of a letter on her firm’s letterhead that was sent to hundreds of schools and GP surgeries by Bayliss and other COVID “truthers” in February last year.
The letter, a copy of which was viewed by VICE News, falsely claimed that the UK’s COVID vaccine programme was under active criminal investigation, and warned recipients to immediately cancel any scheduled COVID vaccination sessions at the school or face potential criminal liability.READ: COVID conspiracists are threatening schools with a fake police investigationNow, the Solicitors Regulation Authority – the regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales – is prosecuting Bayliss over her role in the campaign. The prosecution notice, published by the SRA on Thursday, alleges that in February last year, Bayliss sent the letters to up to 450 people at 247 schools and GP surgeries, and encouraged up to 48 others to send similar letters.
The letters, it said, threatened that the recipients would face legal action if they administered COVID vaccines to school children, enforced face covering requirements, or conducted lateral flow testing. Bayliss is also charged with improper use of “her standing and role as a solicitor” for her role in the campaign. The case will be heard at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which has the power to strike off, suspend and fine solicitors.The wave of legal threats to schools and GPs were an extension of the so-called “crime number” campaign, which was a major focal point for hardline COVID truthers in the UK last year in their efforts to stop coronavirus vaccinations.
The campaign was sparked when Bayliss and three others filed a complaint at London's Hammersmith police station in December 2021, claiming that the government's coronavirus vaccination programme was criminal in nature. READ: Anti-vaxxers think a 9-digit code shows the coronavirus vaccine programme is illegalPolice issued the crime reference number (CRN) “6029679/21” in response – a standard move to acknowledge receipt of the group's complaint – but did not launch any investigation in response.Despite this – and subsequent police clarifications that no investigation was being carried out into the vaccination programme, nor would be – the CRN was cited as justification for a wave of attempts by hardliners from the conspiracist anti-lockdown movement to forcibly shut down vaccination centres.Bayliss, who appeared at a major conference for the UK’s COVID truther movement last year, did not respond to VICE News requests for comment on Friday. When contacted in February last year about the letter being sent to schools and medical centres, she confirmed that she had sent the letter and said that she stood by its contents.