Caroline Lucas MP logged by secretive government “disinformation” unit

Big Brother Watch Team / June 18, 2023


  • The Green MP was repeatedly logged in “disinformation” reports, including for sharing a Guardian article about the failures of Government to prepare for the pandemic
  • Lucas’s advocacy for the People’s Vaccine campaign for fairer access to vaccines was monitored and logged in “vaccine hesitancy” reports and an “election mis/disinformation” report by the secretive unit
  • The government’s Counter Disinformation Unit, which is still operational, added news about Lucas and other MPs meeting the Speaker to raise concerns about Johnson’s “lies” to an “election mis/disinformation” report
  • Lucas’ comments referring to former Minister Dominic Raab as “arrogant, complacent and patronising” were logged in a “disinformation” report

The Green party MP Caroline Lucas has joined calls for an inquiry into the government’s secretive Counter Disinformation Unit, after discovering her criticism of the government over Covid management and ministers’ dishonesty has been repeatedly logged in disinformation reports.

The discovery comes after Lucas submitted a subject access request to the little-known government units with civil liberties campaign group, Big Brother Watch. Earlier this year, Big Brother Watch revealed that world-leading academics, journalists, campaigners and MPs across parties who had criticised the government, including Conservative MP David Davis MP and Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, had been swept up in secret disinformation reports. Davis has also called for the suspension of the Counter Disinformation Unit and an inquiry into its activities.

Big Brother Watch director Silkie Carlo described the monitoring of Lucas’ comments as “among the worst examples of political monitoring under the guise of countering disinformation we’ve seen”. The campaign group is now Crowdfunding to take legal action.

Carlo drew parallels to the wrongful inclusion of Caroline Lucas and other Green politicians on “domestic extremist” watchlists: “Much like the poorly-defined project of ‘countering extremism’ led to elected politicians like Caroline being classed as domestic extremists, so too is the task of countering disinformation being abused to target political opposition.”

Lucas described the revelations as “simply staggering overreach from a Government which has had, at the very least, a socially distanced relationship with the truth on multiple occasions in recent years” and backed calls for an urgent investigation into the Counter Disinformation Unit, which she said is “clearly not fit for purpose”.

Campaigners described it as “particularly alarming” that the Counter Disinformation Unit logged news of Lucas and other MPs meeting the Speaker Lindsay Hoyle in an “election mis/disinformation” report. The meeting raised concerns following a viral video by Peter Stefanovic, watched 45 million times on Twitter, documenting a series of then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “lies”.

The government’s disinformation units were set up to “crack down” on “false and misleading narratives” by “promoting authoritative sources of information” and engaging with social media platforms to “remove harmful content”. The function was initially targeted at the 2019 election before focusing on the Covid pandemic.

The Counter Disinformation Unit is still active and, according to Big Brother Watch’s research, monitoring Britons’ social media posts across several current domestic and foreign policy issues.


Caroline Lucas MP said:

This is simply staggering overreach from a Government which has had, at the very least, a socially distanced relationship with the truth on multiple occasions in recent years.

The right of citizens to share entirely valid and objective criticisms of Government Ministers without fear of the consequences is a cornerstone of our democracy, and must be protected. If these disinformation units focussed their efforts on genuine disinformation, dangerous conspiracy theories and foreign hostility, rather than my tweets, our politics might be in a better place.

The CDU is clearly not fit for purpose, and a full investigation must be opened immediately.”

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said:

“These shocking revelations show that this government has dangerously blurred the lines between genuine disinformation and legitimate political dissent in its so-called ‘counter disinformation’ activities. Much like the poorly-defined project of ‘countering extremism’ led to elected politicians like Caroline being classed as domestic extremists, so too is the task of countering disinformation being abused to target political opposition.

“Caroline’s valid criticisms of government policies and former ministers’ relationships with the truth have been wrongly recorded in disinformation reports that are used as part of a new government function to counter, suppress and censor certain narratives online.

It’s particularly alarming to see an elected MP’s criticisms of the government logged in reports on so-called ‘election misinformation’, which could then be subject to the most harsh restrictions, including around election periods. Whilst Caroline may not have been censored, voters who share her points of view could well have been.

“Whilst many would expect the government to counter foreign hostile disinformation, the Counter Disinformation Unit has suffered serious mission creep and has turned inwards, putting domestic dissent in its crosshairs. Given the serious lack of transparency and safeguards, the Unit is at risk of serving the interests of those with power rather than of our democracy.

The CDU should be urgently suspended and subject to a full investigation.”




Spokespeople are available for interview. Please contact Big Brother Watch’s 24/7 press phone on 07730439257 or email

Big Brother Watch has started a Crowdfunder, instructed a legal team and is preparing to take legal action regarding the disinformation units’ activities.

Background on units

The Counter Disinformation Unit’s responses to our investigation generally focus on two claims, both of which we find to be misleading.

One is that no one was individually monitored. However, this is a rebuttal of an allegation that has not been made. On the contrary, we have evidenced that the units were involved in mass speech monitoring. The evidence shows that certain individuals have a large amount of their speech logged by these units. Whether this is selected because of who they are or what they have said is not evidenced in the subject access request responses and we have not speculated in this respect.

The second is that the disinformation units – specifically the Rapid Response Unit (which, after our investigation began, was disbanded with former RRU staff continuing to work on countering misinformation across government) were essentially performing “media monitoring”. When the RRU was started in 2018, it claimed to support “the reclaiming of a fact-based public debate”. In March 2020, the government announced the RRU would “crack down” and “combat false and misleading narratives” about coronavirus by either issuing “a direct rebuttal on social media” or “working with platforms to remove harmful content”. On the government’s own account, the RRU was not simply performing media monitoring. Further, Big Brother Watch obtained evidence of the RRU asking Facebook to “urgently” remove posts, for example.

Our report on these units, Ministry of Truthprovides further useful detail on the units.