Lord Sugar criticised for sharing coronavirus conspiracy theory on social media

Lord Sugar criticised for sharing coronavirus conspiracy theory on social media

Lord Sugar has been criticised for sharing a coronavirus conspiracy theory on social media.

The Apprentice star tweeted a claim purported to be from a Japanese scientist saying that Covid-19 was man-made.

Independent fact-checking charity Full Fact later debunked the claims.

Lord Alan Sugar
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Lord Alan Sugar
Chairman of Amstrad, Sir Alan Sugar, unveils his new Amstrad 'e-m@iler plus', an e-mail-enabled home phone, in London. Sir Alan said he believed the e-m@ilerplus would allow Britons to surf the web without the pomp of booting a computer up. * Explaining the new technology Sir Alan described its features, including access to Microsoft Mobile Explorer, a library of computer games from Sinclair ZX Spectrum, answering machine, hands-free phone, text messaging and e-mail capacity, and a 700-name address book. The device goes on sale this year for 99.
Lord Sugar in the stands during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid.
Past Apprentice winner Dr Leah Totton stands with Lord Alan Sugar during a photo call for the opening of her second skin care clinic in Loughton, Essex.
Alan Sugar and his wife Ann attending the Pride of Britain Awards 2017 held at Grosvenor House, London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Lord Alan Sugar (left) with Apprenctice candidate, Joseph Valente, who has been revealed as the winner of the BBC One programme The Apprentice and will receive Lord Sugar's �250,000 investment in their business plan, as they meet together after the final show in central London.
Guest of honour Graham Norton meets Nicholas Parsons (left) and Lord Alan Sugar as he attends a tribute lunch hosted by The Lady Taverners at the Dorchester Hotel, London.
Lord Sugar and inventor Tom Pellereau, who won the 2012 series of The Apprentice, hold pictures of themselves as babies in Convent Garden, London, during the unveiling of their latest product, a nail clipper for children.
Lord Sugar and inventor Tom Pellereau, who won the 2012 series of The Apprentice, with Ren Butler aged two from Blackheath at a store in Convent Garden, London, during the unveiling of their latest product, a nail clipper for children.
Guest Lord Alan Sugar during filming of The Graham Norton Show at The London Studios in south London.
(Left - right) Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady and Dara O'Briain at a photocall at The Soho Hotel, London, to launch this year's series of the BBC programme The Apprentice.
EMBARGOED TO 0001 MONDAY DECEMBER 20 Lord Sugar and Stella English, the winner of the Apprentice 2010 at Talkback Thames in London.
Lord Alan Sugar in the House of Lords chamber during the State Opening of Parliament.
Sir Alan Sugar and wife Ann arriving for the British Academy Television Awards at the Royal Festival Hall in central London.
STRICTLY EMBARGOED. NOT FOR PUBLICATION BEFORE 0001 THURSDAY JUNE 12, 2008. Lee Mcqueen, the winner of series four of The Apprentice pictured with his new boss, Sir Alan Sugar during a photocall at the Riverside Studios in London.
(Left-right) Nick Hewer, Margaret Mountford, Sir Alan Sugar and Adrian Chiles attend the launch of The Apprentice - Series 4 (TX: Wednesday March 26, 2008, BBC 1 @ 2100), at RIBA in Portland Place, central London.
Sir Alan Sugar arrives at the Cystic Fibrosis 'Liv' charity event at The Dorchester Hotel in central London.
Winner of The Apprentice (TX: Wednesday 13 June 2007 @ 2100, BBC One), Simon Ambrose (right), attends a photocall with Sir Alan Sugar at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London.
Sir Alan Sugar (second right) with his assistants on the show Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer (right), and presenter of The Apprentice: You're Fired Adrian Chiles, launche a new series of The Apprentice, at the London Stock Exchange.
STRICT EMBARGO TIL 2200 WEDNESDAY 10 MAY 2006. Sir Alan Sugar with the winner of BBC 2's 'The Apprentice' (TX: 2100, Wednesday 10 May), Michelle Dewberry, at the Riverside Studios, west London.
Tim Campbell (right) with Amstrad tycoon Sir Alan Sugar.
Alan Sugar outside the High Court in London with his wife Ann after winning his libel action against the Daily Mail newspaper. The 53-year-old businessman had sued the newspaper over remarks made in a December 1999 story.
Sir Alan Sugar (right) with a companion leaving the High Court in London. A High Court jury was, expected to retire to consider its verdict on the libel action by Tottenham chairman Sir Alan Sugar over a newspaper article which dubbed him miserly. *.. in his stewardship of the soccer club. The 53-year-old multi-millionaire businessman is suing the Daily Mail over a December 1999 story which said he should come out of his counting house and give manager George Graham the cash to buy top players.
Entrepreneurs (L-R) Amstrad Chairman Alan Sugar Virgin boss Richard Branson and EasyJet chairman Stelios Haji-lannou with Prime Minister Tony Blair at the launch in Downing Street of Enterprise Insight, a new business initiative. * aimed to create a more enterprising culture and society across the UK.
Alan Sugar, Tottenham Hotspur chairman
Tottenham Hotspur manager George Graham (left) watches the match alongside his chairman Alan Sugar (centre) and director of football David Pleat (right)
THIS PICTURE CAN ONLY BE USED WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF AN EDITORIAL FEATURE. George Graham (left) ,the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur, shakes hands with club chairman Alan Sugar at their White Hart Lane ground in London Thursday October 1, 1998. Graham has previously managed the nearby Arsenal Football Club Picture by Sean Dempsey/ PA /EDI
THIS PICTURE CAN ONLY BE USED WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF AN EDITORIAL FEATURE. Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Christian Gross looks across to club Chairman Alan Sugar (left) during a news conference at Tottenham's training ground in Chigwell today (Sunday) . The conference was call to explain the sudden departure from the club of Mr Gross. EDI Photo by Ben Curtis/PA.
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar (left) and Jurgen Klinsmann and during a news conference today (Monday) after it was annouced that Klinsmann has rejoined struggling Spurs, currently third from bottom in the Premiership, for 175,000 on a contract until the end of the season with a view to a permanent move. Photo by Ben Curtis/PA. See PA story SOCCER
Gerry Francis (left) with Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Alan Sugar at a news conference today (Wednesday) confirming the dramatic speculation last night that Francis has been replaced as manager by Christian Gross, the Swiss-born manager of Grasshoppers Zurich. Watch for PA Story. Photo by Sean Dempsey/EDI/PA.
Business magnate Alan Sugar (left) at his former school Hackney Community College (formerly called Brook House) with Gordon Brown Chancellor of the Exchequer giving advice to students and answering questions today (Wednesday) in a nationwide Government- backed tour to promote enterprise.
Tottenham Chairman Alan Sugar arriving for the Football Association hearing at Lancaster Gate, in London. Sugar is expected to break his silence over his club's disciplinary 'victory' over the FA.
Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar (l) with new signing Jurgen Klinsmann
Tottenham Hotspur Chairman Alan Sugar with new �2 million signing from Monaco, German striker Jurgen Klinsmann. *Best Quality Available*

A statement on their website said: "Various posts on Facebook claim that the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Professor Tasuku Honjo has said that coronavirus is 'not natural'.

"The claim was also shared on Twitter, including by Lord Sugar.

"We've been asked to check this by lots of readers.

"This claim is false."

Lord Sugar later tweeted to say that he believed his earlier tweet to be "fake news", but defended his decision to share it.

He wrote: "I just passed it on. I didn't write it."

When Lord Sugar was asked by one Twitter user what the source of the information in his original tweet was, he replied "who knows?"

In a separate post addressing someone who had told him to "concentrate on removing fake news from your feed", he said: "Shut your face."

Earlier this week, Professor Honjo released a statement via Kyoto University about him being used to spread unfounded conspiracy theories.

It said: "In the wake of the pain, economic loss, and unprecedented global suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, I am greatly saddened that my name and that of Kyoto University have been used to spread false accusations and misinformation."

On Wednesday, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport minister Baroness Barran urged celebrities not to "fan the flames" around coronavirus by spreading misinformation.

She also stated the need for people to follow public health guidance as members of the House of Lords warned of a rise in "fake news".

On Monday, Conservative MP Julian Knight, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee suggested that Twitter should remove the verified "blue tick" status for accounts that shared misinformation about the pandemic.

He told the Commons: "Some of the most pernicious pieces of disinformation – such as 5G and, let's be frank, the lie about the Government's fake NHS accounts – have been amplified by blue tick verified users on Twitter."

Lord Sugar has been contacted for comment.

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