Piers Corbyn says he “perhaps naively” accepted £10,000 – which later turned out to be Monopoly money – from a man posing as a shareholder in AstraZeneca to stop criticising their vaccine, describing the prank as an “attempted frame up”.
The vaccine opponent claimed the YouTube video from Josh Pieters and Archie Manners was ‘heavily edited with dishonest commentary’
Anti-vaccine campaigner Piers Corbyn said he was “naive” after being fooled by YouTubers who offered him a fake £10,000 donation to stop criticising AstraZeneca.
The 74-year-old was captured on video taking a brown envelope he believed to contain cash from YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners, who were posing as wealthy AstraZeneca shareholders wishing to fund his activism.
In exchange for the money, the pair asked the high-profile protestor to defer from criticism of the AstraZeneca jab and focus on the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines instead.
The comedy duo filmed the encounter which saw them trying to convince the anti-vaxxer to take £10,000 he thought came from AstraZeneca to stop criticising their vaccine.
Piers Corbyn says he "perhaps naively" accepted £10,000 – which later turned out to be Monopoly money – from a man posing as a shareholder in AstraZeneca to stop criticising their vaccine, describing the prank as an "attempted frame up". pic.twitter.com/Lqb9hb3sLP— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) July 31, 2021
What he actually accepted was an envelope full of monopoly money in exchange for promising to focus on Pfizer and Moderna instead of the AZ jab.
Josh Pieters has a history of targeting controversial figures to feature in his videos and last year appeared to trick Katie Hopkins into flying to Prague and accepting a fake award.
In the clip, which has gone viral on social media, Pieters can be seen purchasing shares worth £100 in AstraZeneca to ensure he could legally pose a stakeholder in the company.
They then get in touch with Piers Corbyn via an email proposing a donation to his ‘Stop New Normal’ campaign to which Corbyn replies and agrees to meet up.
The pranksters arranged a meeting in London’s Sloane Square and set up a restaurant with hidden cameras.
Once the meeting begins, Pieters tells Corbyn his father owns a very successful restaurant chain in South Africa and implies the family has a number of other businesses and investments.
He then adds: ‘One of our main interests, funnily enough, is we have share holds in the AstraZeneca vaccine.
‘Can you believe that? It’s not from a personal standpoint, it’s more of a case that it’s good business.’
In the clip, Piers laughs at the revelation before going on to make comments about Moderna and Pfizer, stating that they ‘give those magnetic things’, calling them ‘very scary’.
He tells the duo: ‘As long as I can accept it with no insistence on any policy changes or anything that I’m doing.’
Manners then agrees that they would not ask for policy changes but suggests that if anything could be done for Piers’ campaign to focus on Pfizer and Moderna, ‘that would be useful’.
Corbyn then said ‘yeh’ to Pieters’ request that AstraZeneca be ignored in his future campaign activity.
The video appears to show Corbyn writing down benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a jab that he had previously campaigned against.
The pranksters then use sleight of hand to switch out the envelope of real cash and swap it with one stuffed with monopoly money.
To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, Piers tells the duo: ‘If people ask me where the money came from, I will just say from a businessman who runs restaurants.’
He then assures the pranksters he ‘wouldn’t say anything about’ the money coming from AZ.
Corbyn then appears to claim that a focus on Pfizer and Modern ‘would happen anyway without any interference’.
Piers Corbyn told MailOnline: ‘The video has been very heavily edited with dishonest commentary and leaves out my repeated statements that anything we accept has to be unconditional.
‘It is false that I agreed any change in policy whatsoever and I stated to these imposters that all Covid vaccines are dangerous and we weren’t changing any of our views against vaccines and vaccine passporting.
‘The video starts off with a false claim. The emails they sent said nothing at all about the interests of these gentleman.
‘This was only revealed at the meeting. He claimed he made his money from a restaurant chain and later said he had an investment in a vaccine company which made him feel guilty and he wanted to give a gift because of his feelings of guilt.
‘I agreed nothing about limiting or changing what we have been and will continue to say about the various Covid vaccines.’