AN OAKLEY man has been arrested as part of an investigation into fake Covid passports, thought to have been produced in the Basingstoke area.

A report in the Mail on Sunday today (October 3), outlined how an undercover reporter discovered that genuine certificates were being sold for £750 through the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, by a person who identified themselves as “Doctor J”.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson told the Gazette that they had been alerted to reports of “counterfeit Covid passports” being produced in the area, and were working with others to investigate the allegations.

They said: “We can confirm officers are in the early stages of an investigation after allegations published in the Mail on Sunday Newspaper today, October 3, that counterfeit Covid passports were being produced in the Basingstoke area.

“It's claimed passports were being produced to bypass current COVID border and venue controls.

“Officers are now liaising with the newspaper, Department of Health & Social Care and NHS England as part of the investigation.

“A 23-year-old Oakley man has been arrested in connection with the incident.”

In a statement, an NHS spokesperson said: ““Defrauding the NHS and the taxpayer will not be tolerated and after the Mail On Sunday shared their investigation we immediately took steps to identify potentially fraudulent vaccination records.

“The information has been passed directly to the relevant authorities.”

Plans to introduce compulsory Covid passports, via the NHS Covid pass app, for entry into venues such as nightclubs and theatres have been scrapped by the government in England, but could become necessary if the government launches its ‘Plan B’.

The government said it continues to encourage the voluntary use of certification and the NHS Covid Pass.

More than 200 events and venues used certification on a voluntary basis over the summer, including matches in the Premier League, festivals such as the Reading and Leeds Festivals and All Points East, some nightclubs, and the BBC Proms.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last month that pressures on A&E and increasing hospital admissions could trigger the Plan B.