Scottish Rugby seek removal of conspiracies as anti-vaxxers try to hijack Siobhan Cattigan's death

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  • Siobhan Cattigan
    Scottish rugby union player
Siobhan Cattigan - Scottish Rugby seek removal of conspiracies as anti-vaxxers try to hijack Siobhan Cattigan's death
Siobhan Cattigan - Scottish Rugby seek removal of conspiracies as anti-vaxxers try to hijack Siobhan Cattigan's death

Scottish Rugby was on Wednesday night seeking the removal of “despicable” Twitter posts falsely linking the tragic death of Scotland forward Siobhan Cattigan to the coronavirus vaccine.

The governing body announced on Tuesday night that the 26-year-old had passed away, sparking anti-vaxx conspiracy theories on the social media site.

Telegraph Sport has been told Cattigan’s death last week had nothing to do with Covid-19 nor the vaccine and that Scottish Rugby has been working to get the offending posts deleted.

The governing body declined to comment but Julian Knight MP, the chairman of the Digital Culture, Media & Sport select committee, said: “This is despicable. It is a horrific time for this young lady’s family and to have these idiots try to hijack such an appalling event in order to push their quite bizarre and, frankly, dangerous world view is sickening to the core.

“I would call on social media companies to act immediately to ensure that those individuals who are propagating this disinformation are expelled from their platforms and processes are put in place to ensure that none of this bile spreads any further.”

Twitter declined to comment on the posts in question but said it was taking steps to tackle misinformation around coronavirus.

The spreading of anti-vaxx conspiracy theories about Cattigan’s death came days after scientists countered claims linking the Covid-19 vaccine with an increase in the number of footballers developing heart problems.

On-field emergencies involving Wigan Athletic’s Charlie Wyke, Sheffield United’s John Fleck and Sheriff Tiraspol’s Adama Traore prompted wild speculation.

However, experts pointed to research showing that previous coronavirus infection would be a more likely contributory factor than the jab, if there was any link at all.

The English Football League wrote to its clubs to inform them that Wyke and Fleck’s conditions were not associated with recent vaccination.

It also encouraged them to take extra precautions to prevent the transmission of the Covid-19 following the emergence of the omicron variant, stating it stood ready to impose stricter training-ground and match-day protocols if required.

The Premier League, meanwhile, will update its clubs on Friday about the potential impact of the latest variant on its own competition.

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