A judge read out a doctor’s harrowing account of caring for patients during the pandemic to a coronavirus sceptic who protested against lockdown measures.
Robin Campbell, 58, was arrested on November 14 last year when he breached Government restrictions and marched with 400 people against England’s second national lockdown.
While being fined he argued with Judge Lynne Matthews over the ‘science’ of Covid-19, the safety of vaccinations and ‘the proportionality of a lockdown’.
Yesterday Judge Matthews said to Campbell: ‘Let me just read you something which I read in my lunch break. It was in The Times.
‘The patients don’t ask many questions, mostly because they need to spend all of their energy breathing.
‘I try to work out if one of my patients isn’t answering my questions because she is delirious, because she doesn’t speak English, or because she is depressed.
‘I work out that it is probably the latter; her notes say that her husband died just before new year, from Covid.
‘I almost never have good news to deliver. Hearing people cry on the other end of the phone, knowing that I am bringing them news of the worst day of their lives is heartbreaking.
‘The most distressing part of their struggle is the air hunger. You can spot these patients easily, as they grasp the masks to their faces with both hands and gasp visibly for air.’
While reading the account out loud Judge Matthews noticed Campbell was rifling through his notes, so she paused and said: ‘When I’ve got your attention…’ before finishing the article.
When she was done Campbell responded: ‘Thanks for reminding me of that. I accept there are definitely some people suffering today during Covid.’
During an argument about the ‘science’ of coronavirus the judge asked Campbell: ‘What is it about your predicament on November 14 that meant it was proportionate for you to put others at risk?’
The skeptic, who represented himself in court, expressed his doubts about the severity of the pandemic and said he had disagreed with ‘the proportionality of a lockdown’.
Judge Matthews said: ‘This won’t be a trial about whether lockdown is right or wrong. The regulations are in place and I have to punish people who breach them.’
Campbell responded: ‘I do hear you ma’am, but when there is a lockdown enforced and freedom of speech curtailed, I don’t know where else I am supposed to voice that opinion.’
Campbell told the court he used the Stand Up Bristol protest to voice his opinion instead of going to the media because it tries ‘to gaslight’ him.
But the judge said that was ‘nonsense’ because ‘there are plenty of people in the newspapers with opinions like [his]’.
The defendant, who claims he used to work for intelligence organisation GCHQ, told the judge he was not an anti-vaxxer and was ‘just anti-stupid’.
Judge Matthews argued that if Campbell believes in democracy he should recognise that the regulations were ‘brought in following due process’ by ‘democratically elected lawmakers’.
He said he did believe that but wanted to add ‘additional thoughts’ and asked why ‘flu admissions are almost down to zero’.
Ms Matthews said: ‘Because everyone is taking the flu vaccine, everyone is covering their mouth – so the flu has gone right down hasn’t it?
‘Have you listened to the medics saying hospitals are full in London? That they are being sent to Bristol as they don’t have beds for them there?’
Campbell replied: ‘My good friend, an NHS worker, says the Bristol wards were empty for a long, long time.’
Judge Matthews shook her head.
Before the trial was adjourned the judge asked Campbell: ‘You don’t think you did anything wrong that day?’
Despite pledging not to plead guilty he answered: ‘I’m guilty of breaching the regulations, yes.’
He later told Bristol Live that he had changed his plea because he ‘couldn’t be bothered with the hassle’ of a trial.
Campbell was one of those arrested in the Stand Up Bristol group because he had a megaphone and looked as if he may have been one of the organisers.
Bristol Magistrates’ Court fined Campbell, of Hill House Road, Downend, £1,500 and ordered him to pay £85 of prosecution costs and a £150 victim surcharge within 28 days.
In April Bristol Live reported on Campbell’s YouTube channel which promoted conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus symptoms.
The account has since disappeared.
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