Fact Check-British newspaper retracted advert for vaccine ‘crimes’

Social media users are sharing an advert published in the Rotherham Advertiser, a South Yorkshire newspaper, suggesting British police forces are investigating COVID-19 vaccine adverse reactions. However, the page contains misleading statements and uses the South Yorkshire Police logo without its approval, the police force told Reuters.

The full-page advert features the text “NATIONAL EMERGENCY” and “THE TRUTH IS OUT”, suggesting a “criminal investigation” has been launched by London’s Metropolitan Police into “related crimes and threats to the public health, gross negligent manslaughter and misconduct in the public office”.

It also features contact information for a local solicitor.

Further down the advert, the logo of South Yorkshire Police is positioned alongside a segment of text calling on readers to report “COVID-19 vaccine injuries and deaths including any undue influence to take the injection”.

Several social media users have shared a photo of the page here, here and here.

One account congratulated the Rotherham Advertiser, sharing clapping hand emojis and writing (here “Wow! Well done @rotherhamtiser.”

However, the advert is not part of an official campaign by the police.

“South Yorkshire Police did not and does not support this advert,” a spokesperson for the police force told Reuters by email.

They added that following contact with the newspaper, the advert was removed from its website. However, it had already circulated in the print edition and spread to social media.

“We have asked the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to investigate the apparent involvement of a Solicitors’ firm with the advert,” the South Yorkshire Police spokesperson added.

Neither the SRA nor the local solicitor listed on the advert were immediately available for comment.

Andrew Mosley, editor of the Rotherham Advertiser, told Reuters: “I do not intend allowing our advertising team to accept the advert again and have spoken with them about the content and unacceptable use of police logos.”

Mosley said the newspaper discussed the issue with representatives of South Yorkshire Police and the Metropolitan Police.

He added: “Many of our readers do have anti-vaccination views despite our constant stories advising them to accept the vaccine offer. Obviously, anti-vaccination isn’t an editorial stance we have taken at any point and we wouldn’t.

“We publish valuable Covid information every week in the paper and online and will continue to do so.”

Reuters addressed the false claim that the Metropolitan Police launched a “criminal investigation” into COVID-19 vaccines here.

The Metropolitan Police told Reuters that it was assessing documents submitted to a London police station in support of allegations of criminality in relation to the UK’s vaccine programme. A Crime Reference Number was created, which is not an indication that an investigation is under way or that a crime has been committed, it said, but an acknowledgement that an allegation was received and recorded.

No criminal investigation has been launched, the force added.


Misleading. The advert was not endorsed by the South Yorkshire Police. The Metropolitan Police has not launched an investigation into COVID-19 vaccine crimes. The Rotherham Advertiser acknowledges the wrongful use of police logos in the advert.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .