Two candidates running in the local election have come under scrutiny for sharing conspiracy theories about the pandemic on social media.

The two independent candidates, Jan Turner and Helen Dear, are affiliated with the Friends of Brighton and Hove Party.

The group has called for the restoration of the city’s heritage, “evidence-based environmentalism”, and the rejuvenation of the night-time economy.

In their current campaign literature, the group tells voters that “a council’s job is to run the city, not the citizens” and encourages them to “make 4th May independents day”.

It has now been discovered that candidates have previously shared posts on social media promoting conspiracy theories.

Ms Turner, who is standing in Preston Park, shared several posts on Facebook claiming that the pandemic was a conspiracy.

Her posts shared articles from conspiracy websites about the “evils of vaccination”, as well as false claims that face masks aren’t helpful in stopping the spread of Covid-19.

The Argus:

In a post from January 2021, Ms Turner falsely claimed that death rates from the pandemic were “generally lower than previous years with flu”, adding: “fear controls you”.

She also shared videos posted by Donald Trump claiming that the 2020 US presidential election was “stolen” in the days leading up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which led to the deaths of five people and more than 1,000 people charged.

Ms Dear, who is standing as an independent candidate in South Portslade, also shared several conspiracy theories on Facebook relating to the pandemic, as well as the war in Ukraine and the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 

In some of her posts on the social media platform, she describes the pandemic as “the biggest crime against humanity” and said of doctors who vaccinated members of the public: “Just taking orders from above won’t stand up in a court of law. You should have done your research”.

She also expressed support for Andrew Bridgen, an MP who was suspended from the Conservative Party after comparing the vaccine rollout to the Holocaust.

Ms Dear said: “Thank you Andrew for doing the right thing. Together we will fight this evil and together we will win.”

Other posts shared by Ms Dear included a video of conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist Kate Shemirani, a post which described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an “engineered crisis” and a post promoting an event “discussing the issues surrounding the destruction of the World Trade Center complex in 2001”.

The group organising the event, Hope Sussex, is run by two former members of the far-right British National Party.

It comes after Laura King, the leader of the Friends of Brighton and Hove Party, said her anti-lockdown views would have no impact on how she would be as a councillor.

Ms King, who is standing as an independent candidate in Hanover and Elm Grove, wrote a number of blog posts where she expressed support for anti-lockdown activists and promoted conspiracy theories about the pandemic.

In one post from October 2020, she detailed a trip to an anti-lockdown protest in London, describing the event as the “new civil rights movement”.

Laura King, founder of the Friends of Brighton and Hove group, said: “We are fully engaged in campaigning on local issues for local people in the hope of giving our city back to its citizens, and this is not the time to get into a discussion on unrelated issues.”

Voters go the polls to elect 54 candidates from across the city on May 4.