This month, I was drawn to ask the Prime Minister a question. I took the opportunity to probe Rishi Sunak on his Government’s use of secretive ‘Counter Disinformation Units’. Initially started to tackle Covid misinformation, a recent investigation from civil liberties charity Big Brother Watch found comprehensive evidence that they have subsequently been used to monitor a range of people who criticise government policy: politicians, activists, journalists and others who speak out.
I asked Rishi Sunak how much public money has been spent spying on political opponents under the guise of tackling misinformation and whether he thought this was justifiable. He dodged the question, claiming he believes in “free speech” but his government’s actions say differently. I also asked Sunak for clarity around the publication timeframe for the Pitchford Inquiry into undercover policing. It’s very worrying indeed that the Government has passed several bills ramping up state powers to crack down on protest and activist movements before finding out how much damage has already been done.
I was invited on Sky News off the back of this to put a bigger spotlight on the issue. Every Wednesday, when Prime Minister’s Questions takes place, they give one questioner a chance to elaborate further on the question they asked. I explained why I pushed the Government on this and why it’s wrong for the Tories to use public resources for potential electoral ends.