The chief executive of Openreach, Clive Selley, has confirmed the appalling levels of violence its telecom engineers suffered, during the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Selley was speaking at the Daily Telegraph’s Technology Intelligence Live event on Wednesday, when he confirmed that an Openreach engineer was left with five stab wounds in an attack earlier this year.
Selley added that engineers faced violence and intimidation as they went about doing their jobs, trying to keep the UK communication channels open and functioning during the first Covid-19 lockdown.
“One of my engineers had five stab wounds” Selley said, following an attack in April in Kilburn, north London.
The engineer was in his forties, and the motives behind the attack remain unclear, although it came during the height of abuse of telecom workers over false 5G conspiracy theories.
The engineer was reportedly later discharged from hospital.
“The mobile companies in the UK can tell you about masts being burned,” Selley was quoted by the Telegraph as saying. “It is very scary for our field engineering teams. They were being spat at during Covid, of course that is one way of transmitting Covid.”
“At lots of incidents of verbal abuse,” Selley added. “It is really sad and it is really disgraceful.”
It is reported that in June alone, Openreach suffered the same number of attacks and incidents of intimidation as it endured during the preceding 12 months.
It seems that members of the public would confront engineers installing cables or fibre, or doing repairs and demand to know if they were installing 5G, often invading their workspace or filming them.
The global Coronavirus pandemic unfortunately also saw ill-informed celebrities wading in on the subject of 5G supposedly causing Coronavirus, which did not helped matters.
Many mobile phone masts across the UK were torched or otherwise vandalised during the first wave of the pandemic, many of which were not even 5G equipped.
Vodafone UK’s chief executive Nick Jeffery has previously evealed that one of the attacked towers provided mobile connectivity to the Nightingale hospital in Birmingham, denying family the ability to say their goodbyes remotely to loved ones.
BT’s chief executive, Philip Jansen, who himself was struck down with Coronvirus, previously pleaded for the “mindless idiots who truly believe that 5G and Covid-19 are linked” to stop their attacks.
Jansen said that BT has seen telephone poles wrapped in barbed wire to stop its engineers doing their job, even though they are fixed-line (landline) cables and nothing to do with the mobile network.
He also revealed that 39 BT engineers had been verbally or physically assaulted – including threats to kill.
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