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‘Scammer’ behind conspiracy group against Oxford’s green 15-minute cities

Exclusive: Not Our Future’s David Fleming ran firms accused of fraud, including one that promised a Covid death audit

Katherine Denkinson Indra Warnes
10 February 2023, 11.25am

A protest against 15-minute cities after Oxford announces its plans to go ahead with the scheme


Composite image by openDemocracy. Photos by Marcin Rogozinski / SOPA Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo. All rights reserved

A conspiracy group that claims a new green initiative is a front for “everlasting surveillance” is led by an alleged scam artist whose company was dissolved after taking donations for an “audit” of Covid deaths that has not been published, openDemocracy can reveal.

Not Our Future (NOF) was founded by marketing and sales professional David Fleming, 57, last year “to fight for the survival of our way of life as we know it”. Its key target is Oxford City Council’s ‘15-minute city’ scheme, which states that all vital services should be no more than 15 minutes by foot or bicycle from your front door.

Oxford’s £6.5m plan will see six traffic filters placed across the city, with drivers who do not hold permits issued fines for driving through those areas at certain times of the day.

While the plan has its detractors, NOF appears to want to drum up further objections with a bizarre conspiracy theory that this is the beginning of an “everlasting system of surveillance”, designed to forcibly prevent people from travelling outside their assigned “zone”.

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The group is supported by high-profile right-wingers, including climate sceptic writer James Delingpole, ‘anti-woke’ activist Laurence Fox, archaeologist and GB News presenter Neil Oliver, and the Fairbrass brothers of Right Said Fred fame.

It is not the first time a business owned by Fleming has promoted a conspiracy theory. In 2020, he founded Covid19 Assembly Limited, an outfit that sought “to end all Covid-related restrictions forever”, claiming they were “based on unscientific information”.

In March 2021, Covid19 Assembly announced its plan for a “Covid death audit”, claiming “there is an increasing amount of evidence that at least some deaths have been misattributed [as Covid]”. Fronted by Covid sceptic pathologist Clare Craig, the audit would “investigate every death where possible” to determine the actual cause of death.

To carry out this work, the group asked for donations, saying: “All funds are gratefully received and will go towards helping us get back to normal.”

But in April last year, Covid19 Assembly was dissolved on Companies House, the UK’s official business registrar, without ever publishing an audit or filing any accounts.

Since then, people have taken to Twitter to ask what happened to the donations. One person wrote: “With the @C19Assembly dissolved, having never filed any accounts, their ‘Covid Death Audit’ fronted by @clarecraigpath looks increasingly like fraud.” Another asked: “Where is the death audit and where is the money?”

Where is the Covid death audit and where is the money?

Covid19 Assembly responded to such tweets in September 2022, claiming a decision had been made to allow the company to dissolve, due to it being “accidentally registered as a company limited by shares”, rather than a non-profit.

It said: “Covid19 Assembly has been a trading name of Global Crisis Research Limited [another of Fleming’s businesses] since July 2021.” No accounts have been filed for Global Crisis Research Limited.

Fleming refuted any allegations that Covid19 Assembly was involved in fraud, telling openDemocracy: “[The] Covid Deaths Audit is not fraud!! How could it be? That’s bizarre. We are investigating the biggest fraud in history.”

He also said the audit is still ongoing. But Covid19 Assembly’s website is no longer live and its Twitter does not appear to have posted about it since 2021.

Asked what happened to the donations for the audit, Fleming responded: “What funds? Were we fundraising? You mean a donate button on a website page?”

Motorsports businesses

This is not the first of Fleming’s businesses to be accused of fraud. Nine firms are assigned to Fleming on Companies House, under both David Paul Fleming and David Fleming. None appears ever to have filed accounts and seven are now dissolved.

One of these, Motorsport ETC Limited, was founded by Fleming in 2008. Around this time, Fleming – whose LinkedIn profile says he was previously a branding manager for a Formula 1 team – was a regular fixture on TenTenths, a forum for motorsports enthusiasts.

On this forum, Fleming posted adverts for his various business ventures, including one called Grand Prix Shootout (GPS). Shootouts see wannabe drivers pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds to race in front of industry professionals in the hope of being scouted by managers for big-name teams.

In 2010, Fleming offered drivers the chance to participate in GPS for an entry fee of “just £2,950 including VAT”, stating that the winner would receive “a prize fund equivalent to a season in Formula BMW Europe plus extra driver training and support”.

Responses to Fleming’s post on TenTenths question the scheme’s success, pointing out that “the two winners of [the previous year’s] scholarship are having to fund… drives themselves” and noting that GPS was eight months late filing accounts.

I ran it properly in year one and things went wrong in year two. That’s not a scam. A scam is ripping people off in year one

David Fleming

Another post on the thread on 30 April 2011 accused Fleming of “deleting Facebook posts on a daily basis from drivers who have paid the best part of £8,000 to enter the scholarship but not had much else from the payment”.

Days later, another user shared screenshots from Facebook that seemingly confirmed this, with at least four drivers who had paid the exorbitant entry fee demanding to know why Fleming had not responded to them. The user claimed the drivers’ complaints were deleted after his screenshot. Later that day, another message on the thread said Fleming had been reported to trading standards and the police for fraud.

And a comment on a Facebook post from 2008, several years before the posts on the TenTenths GPS thread, described an offer of a free shootout as “the biggest scam ever”. The poster said the racetrack where the trials were supposedly taking place had no knowledge of Fleming’s F1 Shootout venture.

Fleming denied allegations that GPS was a scam, telling openDemocracy: “I ran it properly in year one and things went wrong in year two. That’s not a scam. A scam is setting it up and ripping people off in year one and running off with the money.”

He added: “Year 1: success. Year 2: failed and lost my house.”

Fleming also hit out at those accusing the business of being a scam. He said: “I had people making malicious complaints from the beginning saying it was a scam when it clearly wasn’t.

“There will always be people like that but it affects credibility and confidence in your project when there is nothing wrong.”

In 2014, Motorsports ETC Limited, was dissolved. The shootouts stopped around the same time, although it is not clear whether these were being run through Motorsports ETC or another of Fleming’s firms.

Fleming told openDemocracy he had run GPS “to the best of my ability”, adding that he had “had some very bad luck and a number of people who let me down and broke contracts which I could not afford to challenge legally”.

He continued: “The Official Receiver (OR) was happy that I had done everything I could to run the business properly. From June 2011 I was not allowed to speak to any customers as it was in the OR’s hands.

“When I have an idea for a business I usually register the domain name and create a company at the same time as I’m enthusiastic. All but a couple have ever actually traded.”

Fleming also said that he has filed accounts in the past, although openDemocracy was not able to find these on the Companies House website.

Pandemic conspiracies

Fleming’s activities from 2014 until the beginning of the pandemic are unknown. In 2020, he seems to have become interested in conspiracy theories, founding the Covid19 Assembly, which spread doubt on the science behind the government restrictions, and the Together Declaration, a pressure group formed to resist lockdowns, digital ID and other supposed government interference.

The Together Declaration is still active and taking donations but lacks any official records, meaning its funding is equally opaque.

We need to enable people to actively switch from supporting ‘the Blob’ to supporting humanity

Not Our Future’s website

In recent months, Covid19 Assembly’s social media has only posted content relating to 15-minute cities and Not Our Future. Unlike lockdown or vaccinations, the 15-minute city is a less obvious ‘enemy’ and Fleming appears to be relying on existing conspiracy-related fears to garner support.

Speaking to anti-vaxxer Gareth Icke (son of conspiracy theorist David Icke) about NOF on Twitter last year, he avoided any concrete definition of the group’s objectives, saying it was about “getting people together on common ground”, “not talking about the Great Reset upfront… to get people thinking without going over the top with facts”.

NOF’s website is equally vague. Making reference to a 1958 science fiction film about an amoeba eating the world, it says: “We need to enable people to actively switch from supporting ‘the Blob’ to supporting humanity.” It also urges followers “to act as if we are on a war footing”.

Still too new to have filed any accounts, NOF’s only public finances to date are the £9,862 it has raised via a crowdfunder, though it also asks for donations on its website.

Fleming told openDemocracy he believes 15-minute cities have nefarious origins in Agenda 30, a set of UN goals for sustainable development that were devised in 2015 with aims such as ending hunger and poverty by 2030.

He said: “Suddenly every council is developing 15-minute neighbourhoods this year simultaneously. Not a coincidence. It’s part of Agenda 30. If you can’t see that, you’re in the wrong business.

Agenda 30 has previously been falsely accused of being a conspiracy. In 2021, FullFact debunked claims that Covid-19 is a hoax being used to usher in Agenda 30 and begin the “enslavement of humanity”.

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