‘Disaster Trolls’

Humanity never fails to amaze me at how long it can sink. I didn’t know that harassing and spying on victims of terrorist attacks was a thing, but it appears it is, and it appears it is do with making money.

To quote from this BBC News story:

Conspiracy theorists, who claim UK terror attacks have been staged, are tracking down survivors to their homes and workplaces to see if they are lying about their injuries, a BBC investigation has found.

Martin Hibbert, who was paralysed from the waist down when he and his daughter Eve were caught in the 2017 Manchester Arena blast, told the BBC he is now preparing to bring libel action against a conspiracy theorist based in Wales.

Richard D Hall has described how he physically tracks down survivors of the attack – in which 22 people were killed and more than 100 injured – to determine whether it was faked. He says he spied on Eve from a vehicle parked outside her home.

In a video shared with his followers online, Mr Hall demonstrates setting up a camera to film Eve, now profoundly disabled and in a wheelchair, to see whether she can in fact walk.

This is absolutely horrific. It is a terrible invasion of privacy, for aims that basically come down to making a profit off other people’s pain (I seriously doubt Mr Hall is actually in it for the sake of the truth, this is probably a cynical ploy to sell books and earn YouTube clicks).

Mr Hall suggests that those who were killed in the attack are really alive and living abroad. He also promotes theories that several other UK terror attacks were staged. A former engineer and website designer, he makes money from selling books and DVDs outlining his theories, as well as speaking at events and posting videos online. As recently as mid-October, he had more than 16 million views and 80,000 subscribers on YouTube.

See? He benefits from this, despite the distress and trauma he is inflicting upon the victims of these attacks.

To quote more from the BBC article:

Martin Hibbert’s lawyer, Neil Hudgell, who is preparing a libel case against Mr Hall, told the BBC: “Martin’s got to the point of enough is enough. This needs tackling and to be silenced in legitimate ways.”

Mr Hall’s claims and tactics also include:

  • Entering the workplace of Manchester Arena survivor Lisa Bridgett, posing as a customer, with the aim of secretly recording her to discover whether she’s lying about her injuries
  • Visiting the homes of other Manchester survivors to try to question them about whether the attack was a hoax
  • Publicising the names and locations of dozens of Manchester survivors and bereaved relatives of victims in a video – appealing to his followers to send him any information they have about them

Martin Hibbert first became aware of Mr Hall’s tactics when police alerted the family to allegations that he had put a camera outside the home of his daughter Eve. Mr Hall had shared a video of himself preparing a small camera strapped to a stake which he said he would use to check whether Eve really was hurt in the Manchester Arena bombing.

“I’ve sharpened the spike on the end so I can just stick that into the ground in order to surveil our subjects,” he told his viewers, holding up a camera attached to a stick with fake foliage wrapped around it.

Eve, who is now 20, was left severely disabled after the bombing. She experienced a serious brain injury and has lost the use of her left arm and leg.

Mr Hall later said online that Eve left the house in a wheelchair, but added, “There’s no evidence” that the injury was as a result of the attack.

He also documented his attempt to prove that Lisa Bridgett, who lost a finger in the bombing, was not injured either, by taking a hidden camera to the boatyard where she works.

In effect, Mr Hall is not only harassing people, but encouraging others to do likewise, to further an agenda that just so happens to be a big source of income. This is beyond awful.

What’s also worrying is how many people are buying into this narrative. 14% of people surveyed believe the Manchester Arena bombings were hoaxed. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s not insignificant either. It goes to show how gullible some people are.

I weep for this species.

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