Corbyn in 2011
Piers Richard Corbyn
10 March 1947
|Occupation||Weather forecaster, businessman, activist and conspiracy theorist|
|Relatives||Jeremy Corbyn (brother)|
|Education||Castle House School|
|Alma mater||Imperial College London|
Queen Mary University of London
Piers Richard Corbyn (born 10 March 1947) is an English weather forecaster, businessman, activist, anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist.[n 1] He rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, describes vaccines as dangerous and describes COVID-19 as a "hoax". He is the elder brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Born in Wiltshire, Corbyn was raised in Shropshire where he attended Adams' Grammar School. He was awarded a first class BSc degree in physics from Imperial College London in 1968 and a postgraduate MSc in Astrophysics from Queen Mary College, University of London in 1981. Corbyn was a member of the Labour Party and served as a councillor in the London Borough of Southwark from 1986 to 1990. Corbyn left the Labour Party due to his opposition to the Iraq War.
Early life and education
Piers Corbyn was born in on 10 March 1947 in Chippenham, Wiltshire. He grew up at Yew Tree Manor in Pave Lane, in Newport, Shropshire; a 17th-century country house which was once part of the Duke of Sutherland's Lilleshall estate.
He began recording weather and climate patterns at the age of five, constructing his own observation equipment. He attended Castle House School and Adams' Grammar School in Newport, Shropshire. At 18 he went to Imperial College London, being awarded a first class BSc degree in physics in 1968. He commenced postgraduate research there into superconductivity, but then went into student representation and politics for some years. In 1979 he returned to postgraduate study at Queen Mary College, University of London, being awarded an MSc in Astrophysics in 1981.
In 1969, Corbyn became the first president of the Imperial College Students' Union to be directly elected by the student body. As president until 1970, Corbyn was successful in establishing a sabbatical union president, enabling the elected student leader to be registered at the college without having to study or pay fees (in fact they received a grant from the college and union).
Corbyn set up a short-lived Imperial College Representative Council, seats on which were distributed between members of the college on the basis of their numbers, a system that almost gave students a majority. The ICAUT, a staff union, refused to cooperate with this student-led initiative. Although this particular council did not survive, increased student representation on college boards and committees became, like the sabbatical president, a lasting success of Corbyn's time as ICU president.
Corbyn, together with the rector at the time, Lord Penney, received the Queen when she opened a new administrative building in 1969. During the visit Corbyn petitioned the Queen in front of 900 people, asking for students to be given greater say in the governance of the college.
Corbyn was a housing and squatters' rights activist in the north Paddington area of Westminster in the mid-1970s. In 1974, he fought for a seat on the council as a Squatters and Tenants candidate; in 1978, he and a colleague fought as Decent Housing candidates. In the 1977 GLC election he was the International Marxist Group candidate for Lambeth Central. He and some of the squatters in Elgin Avenue were, as a result of their campaign which included the building of barricades against eviction, rehoused by the GLC in 1975 spread out between Westminster and in other London boroughs to discourage the risk of further united action. He later moved from that rehousing in Rust Square to the Alvey Estate in Southwark where he became a leader of the tenants association.
In party politics
Corbyn was a member of the Labour Party and served as a councillor in the London borough of Southwark, Burgess Ward, between 1986 and 1990. In 1987, Corbyn was arrested for the defacing of an Alliance poster. He was subsequently released without charge. For seven years he was an unpaid campaigns organiser in Bermondsey and Southwark, being thanked by Tony Blair in 1998 at Downing Street. Piers Corbyn left the Labour Party in 2002 in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, and stood as an independent candidate on housing issues in the Southwark election in 2015. According to The Sunday Times in September 2017, his attempt to rejoin the Southwark Constituency Labour Party in January 2017 was blocked.
His brother, Jeremy Corbyn, has been Labour MP for Islington North since 1983 and served as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party from 2015 to 2020. In August 2015, Piers Corbyn supported his brother's campaign in Labour Party leadership election, on the basis that he stood for proper debate and accountability, including on climate. On Twitter he urged people to register to vote and back Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party.
In business: WeatherAction
Following some years of weather prediction as an occupation, he formed WeatherAction, a business, in 1995. WeatherAction is the business through which Corbyn sells his predictions. He has in the past bet on these predictions. His betting attracted much interest in 1990, when his predictions of severe weather were met by a year of the "worst extremes".
WeatherAction was formerly listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) as 'Weather Action Holdings plc' in 1997, and was transferred back to private ownership in 1999, primarily because of sustaining increasing losses and the impact of costs related to listed status (around £70,000 annually) compared to annual revenues of £250,000. Corbyn reacquired the weather prediction business; the listed shell was taken over by investors and changed its name to 'InternetAction.com', with the intent of researching potential net-based takeover targets.
WeatherAction left the Alternative Investment Market in 1999 after reported losses incurred during its time as a public company of £480,000 and its share price dropped from 79p a share to 24p.
Corbyn's predictions are based on what is called "The Solar Weather Technique". The technique "combines statistical analysis of over a century of historical weather patterns with clues derived from solar observations." He considers past weather patterns and solar observations and sun-earth magnetic connectivity. However, meteorological studies show that such influences cause minimal impact on the Earth's atmosphere.
The only study involving Corbyn's work published in a peer-reviewed journal was in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (2001). Its investigation was limited to Corbyn's 'likely damaging gale periods' predictions for the island of Great Britain for October 1995 to September 1997. Corbyn's enlisted work (carried out for a consortium of insurance companies) was only for the most likely periods of the strongest winds and specifically not a full forecast to include lesser winds:
- "Forecasts prepared by WeatherAction would repay further attention. The results provide little evidence to dismiss the observed success rates as being attributable to mere chance or good fortune. Indeed the balance of evidence indicates that the system performs better than chance although it is recognized that the margin of success differs greatly between the seasons and is lowest in winter when gales are most frequent."
- "This analysis has been wholly empirical in nature, seeking only to establish the success levels of the gale forecasts. Other aspects of the forecasts have not been considered in this evaluation. Inevitably however these results draw into the debate questions surrounding the methodology by which the forecasts are prepared. This is not, however, the arena in which such issues should be taken up."
In a 1999 edition of Wired magazine, researchers Ian Jolliffe and Nils Jolliffe stated of Corbyn's predictions that: "It is unusual for most of the detail to be completely correct, but equally it is rare for nearly everything to be wrong… Some forecasts are clearly very good, and a few are very poor, but the majority fall in the grey area in between, where an optimistic assessor would find merit, but a critical assessor would find fault."
In a 2012 article in Wired entitled "The Fraudulent Business of Earthquake and Eruption Prediction", Erik Klemetti, an assistant professor of Geosciences at Ohio's Denison University accused Corbyn of "cherry picking" and said people who claimed to be able to forecast earthquakes were "faith healers of the geologic community and should be seen as such."
Critics have pointed to inaccurate predictions, such as a white Easter in 1989, and "raging weather" in September 1997. WeatherAction predictions have sometimes been contested by the Met Office, such as in 2008.
Following criticism of WeatherAction's forecasts in The Times and The Guardian, in particular from journalist Paul Simons, Piers Corbyn forbade the use of any extracts of them in any articles unless he had approved them. In addition, he also forbade newspapers and any publication which carried articles by Paul Simons from quoting them.[verification needed] It is not clear what authority Corbyn's proclamation was based on, and neither The Times nor The Guardian have ceased the practice.
Corbyn has criticised Margaret Thatcher's promotion of man-made global warming (also saying that she later recanted her position) around the time of the 1984–85 miners' strike, judging it a disingenuous attempt to justify shutting down coal mines.
Corbyn has stated his belief that the anthropogenic contribution to global warming is minimal, with any increase in temperature due to increased solar activity. In 2008 Corbyn stated that "CO2 has never driven, does not drive and never will drive weather or climate. Global warming is over and it never was anything to do with CO2. CO2 is still rising but the world is now cooling and will continue to do so." In 2009 he attended the International Conference on Climate Change organised by the Heartland Institute.
Corbyn writes about his views, including the idea that the world is experiencing cooling, on his website. and appears on talk shows to discuss what he considers to be weaknesses of the argument for man-made global warming. He featured in a Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle in 2007; a scientifically reviewed complaint to Ofcom noted that he was introduced as 'Dr Piers Corbyn, Climate Forecaster' despite not having a doctorate nor any qualification specifically in climate science or environmental science.
In 2015 BBC Radio 4 apologised for an "unfortunate lapse" in a documentary presented by Daily Mail journalist Quentin Letts, which featured Corbyn in a critique of the Met Office's views on climate change while failing to mention the scientific consensus.
Promotion of conspiracy theories
Climate change denial
Corbyn believes in various non-dominant narratives about climate change; he believes that the media, Met Office and “corrupt scientists” are brainwashing the public as part of a Qatar-run conspiracy to keep oil prices high.
Corbyn’s statement on Bill Gates and vaccines
Corbyn appeared in a video shot on 26 August 2020, saying "We know the actual evidence for modern vaccinations when tried out by Bill Gates with modern vaccinations in Africa is they kill more people than they save".
Corbyn has declared that COVID-19 is a “hoax”.
On 16 May 2020, Corbyn was among 19 people taken into custody for refusing to leave and failing to provide his details whilst protesting against the UK's COVID-19 lockdown in London's Hyde Park. He was reported to have advocated coronavirus-related 5G conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination claims before being taken away by police.
On 30 May, Corbyn attended another protest at London's Hyde Park, and was again charged with, as a journalist puts it, "contravening coronavirus rules".
On 29 August, Corbyn was arrested by the Metropolitan Police near Trafalgar Square and warned he would be issued with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for £10,000, on suspicion of breaking new Health Protection Regulations (2020) for his role in attending an anti-lockdown protest gathering in Trafalgar Square. He appeared on stage alongside conspiracy theorist David Icke and singer Chico Slimani. Corbyn was fined £10,000 for organising an anti-lockdown rally in Trafalgar Square, London. Consequently, Corbyn appeared on Good Morning Britain to debate the fine. During the debate, Corbyn propagated various conspiracy theories about COVID-19. He stated that those who have died from COVID-19 could have died from "something else", adding that it is a “psychological operation to close down the economy in the interests of mega-corporations“ and claimed that modern vaccines make people more ill. Dr Hilary Jones called Corbyn's claims "dangerous".
On 4 September, Matthew Scott wrote a piece in The Spectator entitled "The chilling treatment of Piers Corbyn", on the imposition of a ₤10,000 fixed-penalty notice for organising the 29 August protest at which more than 30 people were gathered. Scott was surprised that the FPN was freighted with the verb "involved", which admits a very liberal interpretation. Scott detailed the history of FPNs, and was surprised by the 20-fold increase in maximum fine that has been seen since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scott took issue with the notion that a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) has been delegated with the power to impose such a large penalty.
On 5 September, Corbyn attended and helped to organise an anti-lockdown rally organised by StandUpX Mission in Sheffield. During the rally, he argued: that the lockdown was taking place so the British government can “end your rights and freedom, to control you”; that DNA vaccines are dangerous; and that the British government have a hidden agenda. At the end of the rally, Corbyn was arrested by a detachment of two dozen police, including at least one mounted officer. Consequently, he was charged with three offences under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, including:
- ”arranged and facilitated, then participated in, a gathering of more than 30 people.”
- ”failing to wear a face covering in a required area."
On 6 September, Corbyn invited Sadiq Khan to permit a rally in Trafalgar Square London at noon on 26 September, and he invited MPs of any stripe or party to speak from the podium at the London rally. Corbyn also mentioned his forthcoming presence on 19 September at a rally in Portsmouth and closed his speech with, “You have nothing to lose but the chains in your mind”. On 18 September, Corbyn spoke at an anti-mask rally in Cornwall and described all politicians as “liars”. He also stated that COVID-19 is a “con” and that “the measures they are using against us to control Covid, they are to control you”. On 24 September, Corbyn attended an anti-mask rally in Norwich and was one of the main speakers. During his speech he said, “yesterday’s conspiracy theory is today’s truth“ and “no more lockdown - save lives”, and added: “Speaking the truth is a revolutionary act”. On 26 September, Corbyn attended a rally in Leeds and repeated the same claims as he did in Cornwall.
On 3 October, Corbyn attended and was a speaker at an anti-lockdown protest at Old Market Square in Nottingham. On 9 October, Corbyn attended an anti-lockdown in Oxford. On 11 October, Corbyn attended an anti-lockdown protest outside of the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff. He told protestors that COVD-19 is a “hoax”, “free your face” and “herd immunity needed”. On 14 October, Corbyn was the leader of an anti-lockdown protest in Sheffield. During his speech at the protest, he said, “The whole thing [coronavirus] is an orchestrated lie taking away your rights. It is a hoax from start to finish and the way we are going to win is we are going to have to actively break and be seen to be breaking the lockdown“. He described the British Parliament as a “brainwashing institution” that was full of “fake scientists” who are “paid liars”. He finished his speech by stating, “The main thing we have to get across to the public is the Covid measures are not to control Covid, they are there to control you“.
On 16 October, Corbyn attended a demonstration in Soho, London, against the 10pm pub curfew. He said, "We’re here to drink against the curfew. To oppose the lockdowns, to oppose job losses caused by lockdowns, to oppose all of it. The whole lot should be lifted now."
On 17 October, Corbyn attended an anti-lockdown protest through Hyde Park and Oxford Street in London. The protest came to a halt at Leicester Square where Corbyn addressed the crowd. He told the crowd:
Bill Gates wants vaccinations to control you and to control women’s fertility to reduce world population. That is his game and he’s going to get loads of money off it, and you will pay with your money and your life. We say, ‘No’.
On 18 October, Corbyn attended an anti-lock protest in Clayton Square, Liverpool City Centre. He told the protesters:
This COVID-19 virus is a hoax. There may have been something around in China, was it the same thing, was it a bio-weapon, who knows. But it was used to unleash the most monstrous power-grab the world has ever seen. And what we have got to do, we have got to break their lockdowns, break all their measures or we lose. We are not just walking around protesting, saying to the Government please do this, please do that. We are not protesting, we are fighting, in order to break every move they make.
On 24 October, Corbyn attended an anti-lockdown protest by Save Our Rights UK using the slogan “Stop The New Normal” in London. The police determined that the protesters were not adhering to the coronavirus rules and decided to break up the protest. At least 18 people were arrested during the protest.
Corbyn is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' court on 17 November 2020 for breaching coronavirus rules on 16 and 30 May 2020. He was due to stand before trial on 23 October 2020, but late disclosure of police logbooks delayed the proceedings. Corbyn’s barrister told the court that he was “specifically targeted” by the police. Corbyn spoke outside of the court before the hearing on 23 October 2020 and said, “If we win today, this will set a precedent for all other people arrested under the Covid regulations. If we lose, we will appeal. Whatever happens, if they impose a fine, I will not pay the fine. I'm not going to pay any fines for these anti-just, illegal laws”.
- For the conspiracy theorist descriptor, see:
- Glastonbury 5G report 'hijacked by conspiracy theorists'. BBC News.
- Anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine and anti-mask protesters crowd London's Trafalgar Square. The Independent.
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- Piers Corbyn charged with breaching lockdown rules on two occasions. The Daily Telegraph.
- Who is Jeremy Corbyn's brother Piers? Mask protests, climate denial and support for a no-deal Brexit. The Daily Telegraph.
- Wired: "Everyone Complains About the Weather... Piers Corbyn Is Doing Something About It. Archived 4 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine" Tom Standage, February 1999. URL accessed 14 March 2007.
- Trim, Liam; Colwill, Jack (3 May 2020). "5 dangerous virus claims made by anti-lockdown protests debunked". SomersetLive. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
- Burgess, Kaya (5 December 2016). "Corbyn's family mansion for sale". The Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
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- INTERVIEW: PIERS CORBYN Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine 1 June 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
- Whether the weather be... Archived 8 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine QUAD Magazine, 2007, Queen Mary University of London
- The History of Imperial College London, 1907–2007, Hannah Gay, p. 437
- Gay, Hannah (2007). The History of Imperial College London, 1907–2007. London: Imperial College Press, 437, 477 and Illustration 102. ISBN 978-1-86094-708-7.
- Harrow Road ward Archived 20 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine election results
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- Weather: The man who makes money out of sun-spots, The Independent, 24 October 1997.
- Haven't the foggiest? Read on, The Independent, 22 November 1998. Said to be listed "13 months" prior to publication, ie 1997.
- Atkinson, Dan (24 November 1999). "Weather goes private again". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 7 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
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- The Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Vol 63, Issue 1, January 2001, pp. 29–34:  Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine URL accessed 8 September 2015. DOI 10.1016/S1364-6826(00)00155-3
- How Good Is He, Anyway? Archived 24 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine – Wired, Issue 7.02, Feb 1999
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- Feedback – 15 April 1989 – New Scientist Archived 22 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine (Subscription only)
- Rowan, Matthew (22 November 1998). "Haven't the foggiest?". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- "Prediction of −17 °C freeze cuts no ice with Met Office" Helen Pidd, The Guardian, January 2008
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- The man who repeatedly beats the Met Office at its own game Archived 22 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Daily Telegraph, December 2010
- "WeatherAction home page". Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2008.
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- Piers Corbyn: the other rebel in the family Archived 22 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine The Observer, Tim Adams, 24 January 2016
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- Response to BBC2 "Climate Wars" 2008.
- on YouTube 2009
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 June 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- York, Chris (30 August 2020). "Jeremy Corbyn's Brother Piers Fined £10,000 Over Trafalgar Square Anti-Mask Protest". Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
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- "Anti-lockdown protestor Piers Corbyn challenged by Dr Hilary over COVID-19 'hoax' claims", ITV News, 1 September 2020
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- Scott, Matthew (4 September 2020). "The chilling treatment of Piers Corbyn". The Spectator (UK).
- "'We are now a movement' Piers Corbyn tells hundreds at Sheffield 'anti-mask' protest". The Star. 6 September 2020.
- Corbyn, Piers (6 September 2020). ""OUR MOVEMENT, WE CAN WIN" Says Piers Corbyn". YouTube.
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- Lott-Lavigna, Ruby (17 October 2020). "Anti-Lockdown Conspiracy Theorists March in London as New Tier 2 Rules Hit". VICE.
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- "Police targeted Piers Corbyn at anti-lockdown protests, court told". The Guardian. 23 October 2020.
- "Piers Corbyn 'specifically targeted by police' at anti-lockdown protest court heard". BBC News. 23 October 2020.
- "ANTIVAX Piers Corbyn blamed for split among coronavirus deniers". The Times. 11 September 2020.