FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A UK Cabinet Office Document Telling Government Ministers How To Destroy Businesses?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a U.K. Cabinet Office message to the country’s government ministers instructing them how to destroy businesses.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence the supposed Cabinet Office document is authentic. A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office confirmed the message is fake.

Fact Check:

The U.K. is currently under a national lockdown as a measure to curb COVID-19 cases, meaning several businesses have been required to close or limit activity, according to guidance from the Cabinet Office on the U.K. government’s website.

An image on Facebook purportedly shows a document from the U.K. Cabinet Office that bears the office’s logo in the upper-left corner. The document shows an “amendment to memorandum circulated to ministers 18 October 2019,” and was allegedly sent out on Nov. 3, 2019. The first positive COVID-19 test in the U.K. occurred February 2020, according to BBC News.

“Damage to the wider economy is only achievable by imposing continuing measures to prevent trading amongst the commerce and service industries as a whole regardless of the size of organization,” the text of the supposed amendment begins. The document further states that “any such disorder will be discouraged by a public health campaign that will bring on board a mixture of health information, analysis and data presented by Government and Independent institutions” and “all ministers will be complicit in the publication of the health directives.”

Check Your Fact, however, didn’t find any evidence that the image shows a real message from the U.K. Cabinet Office. Major British media outlets do not appear to have reported about the Cabinet Office sending a message to ministers telling them how to ensure destruction of legally-operating businesses or economic damage.

A search of the U.K. government’s website likewise turned up no results for the document or a similar message. In fact, the website offers a list of different forms of COVID-19 support available to businesses. (RELATED: Was A 19-Year-Old Appointed As Rwanda’s Minister Of New Technologies And Development?)

The alleged document includes a Freedom of Information (FOI) reference number. The wording of the document, however, does not resemble other publicly available FOI response letters from the Cabinet Office, which typically begin by referencing the contents of the request.

The text of the supposed document also uses the Americanized spelling of “organizations,” a term that is conventionally spelled “organisations” in the U.K., further adding to the document’s dubiousness.

Cabinet Office media officer Paige Miles told Check Your Fact via email, “I can confirm that this is fake.”

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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