Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine on Thursday, Professor Semple laid bare one “particularly nasty experience”.
Professor Roger Kirby, who hosted the session, asked: “You’ve been targeted by the anti-vax group, haven’t you?
“Didn’t somebody post something along the lines that ‘Calum kills wildlife for fun…?’”
Agreeing with the statement, Professor Semple replied: “We are fortunate that the police are open to hearing from us and there’s good liaison support for us when these threats are made.
“That was one particularly nasty event.
“There have been others since then and suspicious packages sent to SAGE members and myself.
“This comes from both extremes – people that feel that we’re making bad decisions and they don’t appreciate that SAGE is not a decision-making body.”
He explained: “I’ve never been at a SAGE meeting where we’ve sat around drinking coffee saying ‘wouldn’t it be a jolly good idea if we closed the pubs?’
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“That conversation has never and will never happen.
“It’s about what is the likely contribution of construction versus schools versus large matches, and that’s where you can then present a menu of likely impacts, and then it’s for policymakers to make the decisions, but we’re not a talking shop or we’re not a suggestion box or a brains trust, it’s very much about dealing with inadequate information and giving best opinion.”
Professor Smeple’s testimony follows the “humiliation” of Professor Chris Whitty earlier this year at St James’s Park where two young men accosted England’s chief medical officer.
One of the men was later sacked from his job following the incident on June 27 after a judge described the event as “yobbish behaviour”.
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Although Professor Whitty brushed off the incident, the two men were berated online.
A Government Office for Science spokesperson has said they take any security issues relating to SAGE personnel “seriously” and will continue to offer “security advice and support”.