A UK-based Kenyan preacher accused of selling "plague protection kits" as a bogus cure for COVID-19 was on Monday arraigned in a London court.
Appearing at Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court, Bishop Climate Irungu Wiseman was charged with fraud and unfair trading offenses. The 46-year-old self-declared prophet is alleged to have offered the package, containing a small bottle of oil and a piece of red yarn, for £91.
Irungu, who is the head of the Kingdom Church in Camberwell south London, claimed the mixture of cedarwood and hyssop could protect users from coronavirus.
The clergyman pleaded not guilty to a single count of fraud and two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations between March 23rd and 24th.
The charge sheet read that the accused person claimed the concoction advertised as “Divine Cleansing Oil” or “Divine Plague Prevention Kit” could be used to treat, prevent, protect against or cure COVID-19. He is alleged to have made the claims in person, online, instructional videos, and through testimonial videos.
Representing Southwark Council, prosecutor Ryan Thompson said claims were made that the oil had cured at least 10 people in phone calls to the church during the investigation.
He said the charges involved selling a fake cure for COVID-19, adding that there was a risk of death and harm to persons who bought the oil believing it would help save them.
Defense attorney Maeve Thornton said the case involved the freedom to practice religion.
The case was sent to Inner London Crown Court where Irungu is expected to appear on September 13th.