Fact Check-Video does not show UK train station cleaners staging photos to scare the public

A man with a video phone filmed himself confronting two train station cleaners in London who appeared to be taking pictures of each other.

In the film, the man accuses them of staging the pictures for the media, so the shots can be used in a scare campaign about COVID-19. This is not the case. The workers’ employer said they were contractually obliged to take the pictures, with time stamps, to show that they had completed their work.

The video, viewed thousands of times on Facebook and Instagram (here and here), features an unidentified man approaching two people wearing blue high visibility vests at Finsbury Park station. One is dressed in full COVID-19 protective clothing and appears to pose while the second person captures photos on a phone.

“What are you doing? Why are you taking photos?” the person behind the video camera can be heard asking. “You’re just doing it for paparazzi, why are you doing this? You’re not even cleaning.”

The man continues: “Is this for the media? Who are you; what are you doing? You’re taking photos for the media? […] She’s not doing nothing. They’re here to make fear in people’s heads. There isn’t a pandemic, take your mask off.”

The video has since been shared by social media users questioning the legitimacy of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one writing: “Almost as bad as when they were faking hospital scenes by rushing plastic dummies through to emergency wards for the news last year.”

However, Reuters has repeatedly addressed claims about the reality of COVID-19 (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here).

The suggestion that cleaners were capturing photos as a fearmongering task for the media is also false – and the person filming appears to make assumptions based upon a lack of context.

Reuters spoke to a representative of Churchill Group, the company contracted to clean Finsbury Park station, who said staff are required to take time-stamped photos to verify when tasks are completed.

This was also confirmed by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which oversees the area of the station where the video was captured.

“Time and date-stamped photos of cleans in progress are taken to confirm attendance and locations cleaned,” a GTR spokesperson said via email.

According to Churchill Group, the footage was captured on July 13 and the two members of staff “had just minutes before completed this area”. The spokesperson added: “We had carried out a clean of the ticket area of the station and were waiting for the area to be clear of members of the public to take the photographs required to time and date stamp the completion of the tasks.”

The spokesperson also denied staff were attempted to “make fear in people’s heads”, as the video had alleged. 


Missing context. The company contracted to clean Finsbury Park Station are obliged to take time-stamped photos to document completion of tasks.

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