A CROWD of around 100 people gathered in Newport city centre this afternoon for a 'freedom rally'.

There was a large police presence around the Newport Crown Court car park, where a series of speakers addressed attendees in front of a banner displaying the message ‘Newport Freedom Rally’.

Speakers railed against vaccines, Covid-19 testing policies, the media, Bill Gates, USA chief immunologist Anthony Fauci, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Attending the rally was a diverse group of people of various ages, including some families.

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Few people were wearing protective face masks, save for the police officers standing on the perimeter and watching what was a peaceful event.

There was laughter when members of the crowd were asked to raise their hands if they planned to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

After news of a potential vaccine breakthrough last week, one of the UK’s leading fact-checking organisations, Full Fact, said it was preparing for anti-vaccination posts to be “ramped up” online.

The NHS joins the wider scientific community in rejecting claims vaccines are unsafe and contain harmful ingredients.

The health service’s guide to vaccines is available here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/why-vaccination-is-safe-and-important/

Last week, the UK government’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, sought to dismiss so-called ‘anti-vax’ conspiracy theories.

Answering a question about misinformation spread by anti-vaccine groups, Prof Van-Tam said: “Vaccine misinformation has been out there ever since the first vaccines were made and it is exactly that, misinformation, and I don’t propose to give it any further airtime.”

Additional reporting by PA Media.