The gambling regulator who spread misinformation about Covid-19 and tried to stop vaccination rollout

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Chief gaming commissioner Lisa Hansen has demanded an immediate halt to the country’s vaccination program, citing wildly inaccurate claims about nanotechnology in Covid-19 bites.

The Commission adjudicates casino license applications and hears appeals against regulatory and licensing decisions made by the Department of Home Affairs.

Hansen is also an advocate for anti-vaccination groups Voices for Freedom and New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science (NZDSOS).

In January, she wrote a letter to Cabinet ministers and drugs regulator Medsafe, claiming to offer ‘evidence’ that vials of the Pfizer vaccine contained ‘advanced nanoscale technology’. The claims have been categorically debunked by leading scientists, including nanotechnologist Michelle Dickinson.

Hansen said she was hired by NZDSOS and attached photographs intended to support claims of nanotechnology in the vaccine. Scientists questioned whether the images were genuine.

The letter was based on inaccurate claims by Wellington GP Matthew Shelton who believes the vaccine contains microscopic self-assembling electronic components. He repeated the false claims in a speech during the occupation of parliament in February – and the misinformation was widely shared on social media.

The letter was later made public by NZDSOS in a set of documents that also contained false and misleading claims about the vaccine program and repeated conspiracy theories about the “great reset” and the World Economic Forum.

Wellington lawyer and chief gambling commissioner, Lisa Hansen.  Photographed in 2012.

Things

Wellington lawyer and chief gambling commissioner, Lisa Hansen. Photographed in 2012.

In June, on behalf of NZDSOS, she again wrote to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster again calling for an immediate halt to the rollout of the vaccine and asking the police to investigate Medsafe.

The letter makes false claims that “several hundred deaths” have occurred as a result of the vaccine that are not reported to the Center for Adverse Reactions Monitoring. Indeed, 170 deaths have been reported to the CARM following vaccination. One death was determined by the coroner to be due to myocarditis following a first dose. Two more were likely.

Police responded to Hansen’s letter saying: ‘Police do not accept the views expressed by NZDSOS and do not intend to respond through an investigation of Medsafe or other agencies involved in administration of the Covid-19 vaccine.”

Hansen also acts for VFF, which played a leading role in the occupation of parliament in Wellington which spiraled out of control before ending in a riot in March. ThingsThe Fire and Fury documentary recently revealed that the group was fielding candidates for local body elections in a bid to “influence the results (and) exert our influence” and make the country “ungovernable”.

In October, Hansen appeared on a VFF podcast, hosted by founders Claire Deeks and Alia Bland, to “meet the legal team” and talk about warrants. There are 34 episodes that frequently platform Covid misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Hansen congratulated the founders of VFF. “I’m incredibly grateful to be able to be involved with Claire and Alia and Libby [Johnson]. They do a fantastic job…they really give their all and are really amazing in my opinion…and hopefully they can be of help.

Lisa Hansen presented debunked information from Matthew Shelton, who was suspended by the Medical Council for his anti-vax stance, but won an appeal.

KEVIN STENT / Stuff

Lisa Hansen presented debunked information from Matthew Shelton, who was suspended by the Medical Council for his anti-vax stance, but won an appeal.

Hansen has been a member of the Gambling Commission for more than a decade and was appointed to her current position, for a three-year term, in March 2020. The position recently opened for nominations, ending Friday.

Commissioners work approximately 25 days per year and the Chief Gaming Commissioner’s daily meeting fee is $750 with expense reimbursement.

Hansen also works out of Barristers•Comm, a central chamber in Wellington. She refused to answer questions.

Interior Minister Jan Tinetti expressed confidence in Hansen’s performance. A spokeswoman said no concerns were raised with Tinetti or his office. “I have not requested information or explanations from the Chief Gaming Commissioner about activities outside of her role,” Tinetti said.

Interior Minister Jan Tinetti says she has confidence in Hansen.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

Interior Minister Jan Tinetti says she has confidence in Hansen.

A Home Office spokesperson said it does not monitor the activities of appointees outside of designated duties “unless these are seen as a direct conflict with their role”.

The DIA has not investigated the nature of any relationship with Voices for Freedom, he said. “There does not appear to be a connection between the work of the Gambling Commission and any work for Voices for Freedom.”

The Gambling Commission did not respond to questions, but said in a written statement executive director Blair Cairncross said it had no role in the nomination process. “Ms. Hansen told the Commission that her involvement with VFF is consistent with and limited to her capacity as an advocate for the organization,” Cairncross said.



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