A Channel 4 prank duped two Tory MPs – including former leader Iain Duncan Smith – into discussing a fake cocaine-selling app.
Ross Thompson, Conservative MP for Aberdeen South, was also tricked by TV show Ministry Of Justice into talking about ‘InstaGrammes’, which he was told supports Colombian children.
The fictional smartphone app was said to sell drugs with a proportion of the profits being used to support youngsters in a cartel’s ‘cocaine factory’.
While Ross Thompson worried that the app ‘makes drugs look cool’, Iain Duncan Smith attempted to reassure viewers that GCHQ would deal with the threat.
Iain Duncan Smith was duped by the fake cocaine-selling app and reassured people that GCHQ were on top of the situation
Ross Thompson MP worried that the app would make cocaine seem ‘cool’ to young social media users
‘You have these apps such as InstantGramme and others… using the technology that exists at the moment to deliver drugs in a way that they would have delivered before but slightly easier,’ he said. ‘
Of course, that relies on those areas being penetrated. I think all these are penetratable [sic] and we also have the ability to close them down… particularly if they are not on the dark net they are a lot easier to penetrate.
‘Some of these sites will be up for a while and then they will go. They will go because they have been penetrated.
‘And I have to say that I know what goes on from GCHQ across the board, penetrating these sites is not difficult.’
Conservative MP Ross Thompson, pictured, appeared on a Channel 4 prank show that featured a fake app InstaGramms, which offered fair trade narcotics deliveries by providing education to child labourers in a Colombian drug cartel’s cocaine factory
The ‘documentary’ showed child actors working in a supposed Colombian cocaine factory
Users of the fake app were supposedly able to order ‘fair trade cocaine’ for delivery with some of the profits to be sent back to Colombia to provide an education for children
While Mr Thomson declined to endorse the app, he did not question whether or not it was real and gave the show’s creators a final pay-off by suggesting the app made the act of ordering drugs ‘look cool’.
Aberdeen North SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said the hoax was a ‘blindingly obvious prank’ and an ‘astonishing display of poor judgment’, but Mr Thomson said the programme took a ‘pretty underhanded’ approach to a ‘very serious issue’.
As well as Mr Thomson, the programme succeeded in tricking Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative party, into thinking the drug delivery app actually existed.
In the first episode of the new series, Mr Thomson was conned into believing a new smartphone app called InstantGrammes exists that helps to deliver illegal drugs – and supports children working for drug plantations in South America.
The producers of the show designed the fake app, which is purported to help children producing cocaine by giving them an education, to look as real as possible. They sought endorsements from a number of familiar faces – though most, if not all, saw through the deceit.
Mr Thomson was shown a video of a child who lives at a ‘half school, half drug plantation’ in Colombia which receives assistance from InstantGrammes.
In the fake video presentation, a child actor said the project is ‘fair trade’, when not making cocaine, he is able to work towards his dream of being a dentist.
Thompson told producers watching the footage of the children ‘made his skin crawl’
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, pictured, was also interviewed for the Channel 4 show
At the conclusion of the false advert, a disclaimer warns that any trespassers to the facility, which is run and owned in part by a cartel, would be shot on sight.
The Aberdeen South MP then tells the film crew: ‘Watching that video made my skin crawl.
‘You’ve got these young kids in Colombia being exploited to say that somehow ‘actually drugs are making my life a lot better’ – of course it’s not.
‘These kids were probably made to do that, that’s absolutely not the case.
‘The development of apps like InstantGrammes, which can easily be downloaded on to your phone or tablet to order drugs, makes it look cool, and I know it sounds ridiculous, but it makes it look cool.’
Mr Thomson said last night: ‘These people presented themselves as a legitimate production company.
The documentary claimed funds from the app where being channeled into a school for the children working in the cocaine factory known in English as the Sacred White Powder Institute
‘Along with other parliamentary colleagues, I took what they said at face value. I think this is a pretty underhanded way to approach a very serious issue.’
Mr Thomson previously courted controversy with a smiling photograph of himself on the throne of Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein, where he joked about channelling his ‘inner dictator’.
On the same trip to Iraq, Mr Thomson also posed with the Swords of Qadisiyah monument, a large arch erected by Hussein.
Earlier this year in an episode of Question Time, Mr Thomson also said it was quicker to use an online app to order cocaine to your house than a pizza if you are in Glasgow.
Ms Blackman said: ‘This is an astonishing display of poor judgment, even by Ross Thomson’s standards.
Conservative MP Ross Thompson, pictured, appeared on a Channel 4 prank show which featured a fake app InstaGramms
‘I take the issues of drug abuse and addiction incredibly seriously and it is vital that MPs educate themselves on facts presented by reputable organisations.
‘The fact Ross Thomson fell for this blindingly obvious prank might go some way to explain his ill-informed claims over drugs made during a recent Question Time appearance.
‘Frankly, I think people across the north-east will be taken aback to witness an MP being so gullible.’
When Mr Thomson was interviewed by the TV crew he was played a mock video starring a Colombian child, detailing how his life had been improved by the non-existent InstantGrammes service.
In the fake video, a child actor is seen saying to the camera: ‘I was only nine years old when my brothers and I were taken to work in a cocaine factory.
‘We had no time to learn or be children, working all day, packing bags and bags of cocaine. But now, all this has changed.
‘Here at the Instituto del Sagrado Polvo Blanco, we’re finally getting the education we dream of.
‘It’s half school, half drugs plantation, where we do equal amounts of school work and drug-making.
‘Best of all, it’s fair trade. Ten percent of profits go to teachers and lessons.
‘Thanks to the support of InstantGrammes, I can finally get away from drug-making and become a dentist.
‘Well, I must get to class. If I am late the teacher will make me do lines…. don’t worry, I mean on the blackboard.’
A disclaimer then states that the ‘Instituto del Sagrado Polvo Blanco’ is run and owned in part by the ‘Calavera Odiosa Cartel’, and trespassers will be ‘shot on sight’.
After viewing the fake presentation, the Aberdeen South MP said: ‘It’s really worrying that we see these kind of promotional videos. It shows that the government needs to take more action in schools.
‘Watching that video made my skin crawl.
Thompson previously posted images of a visit to the Swords of Qadisiyah monument in Iraq
‘You’ve got these young kids in Colombia being exploited to say that somehow “actually, drugs are making my life a lot better” – of course it’s not.
‘These kids were probably made to do that, that’s absolutely not the case.
‘Are we getting to the point where people think drugs are cool because you’ve got videos like this, you’ve got apps -and let’s be honest, some of my favourite TV series involve drugs.
‘Breaking Bad, I love Breaking Bad.
‘The development of apps like InstantGrammes, which can be easily downloaded on to your phone or tablet to order drugs, makes it looks cool, and I know it sounds ridiculous, but it makes it look cool.’
The show’s producers then attempted to ask Mr Thomson to officially endorse the app, but the MP declined.
However, his words ‘it makes it look cool’ were taken out of context as a punchline to his segment.