A preacher who claims to have performed miracles has been found guilty of fraud after selling “plague protection oil” as a bogus cure for Covid-19.
Bishop Climate Wiseman, 47, warned his followers they could “end up dropping dead” during the pandemic and urged them to get the mixture – consisting of hyssop, cedarwood and olive oil – as soon as possible.
The oil was sold for £91 on its own, under names including “divine cleansing oil” and “plague protection oil”, or as part of a “divine plague protection kit”, containing a prayer card and scarlet yarn.
Wiseman, who is head of the Kingdom Church in Camberwell, south London, told a court he was inspired by a visitation from God telling him he is a prophet who can cure coronavirus.
He told jurors he has performed miracles, including curing the blind, and insisted he believed the oil – which he never claimed had a scientific or medical effect – was capable of curing or preventing Covid-19 for him and members of his church because of their faith.
Some 10 witnesses from his congregation, including nurses, told how they were cured or prevented from getting Covid-19 after using the oil by steam inhalation or rubbing it on their skin.
Wiseman, who offered other products for sale, including an oil to help in court cases, denied fraud and two alternative counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
But he was found guilty by a jury at Inner London Crown Court on Thursday of the more serious offence of fraud between March 23 2020 and March 24 last year by a majority of 11 to one.
Wearing a purple clerical shirt and dog collar, Wiseman showed no emotion as the verdict was delivered.
Judge Nigel Peters KC, who granted Wiseman bail ahead of sentencing on January 13, said he was carrying out the fraud when “there was fear amongst the public in this country”.
“This was being touted at a time when the public in this country were under the most intense pressure as to what would happen tomorrow,” he said.
Also known as Dr Climate Wiseman and Climate Irungu, he and his church were investigated in 2016 for offering an oil for sale which was said to cure cancer, but no prosecution was brought after the product was withdrawn.
Southwark Trading Standards was alerted to the Covid scam on March 24 2020 – the day after the country was plunged into a nationwide lockdown – while the BBC also carried out an investigation.
Prosecutor Richard Heller earlier told the jury that Wiseman, calling himself “Prophet Climate Wiseman” said his oil mixture, containing “cedarwood, hyssop and prayer” had “sat upon the altar for seven days”.
On his blogging site, Wiseman claimed the special ingredients in the oil “act like an invisible barrier” and that “coronavirus and any other deadly thing will pass over”.
He claimed that, through its use, together with a scarlet yarn, it killed coronavirus, which “can’t stand the power of the oil” and that by coughing the virus would be expelled from the body and “die”.
Wiseman said his cure was based on the teachings of the Bible and in a video implored viewers, their friends and family members, to get their kits as soon as possible.
People answering the phones at his Bishop Climate Ministries call centre said the mixture offered “protection from corona” and had cured “many people”, including at least 10 with symptoms.
Southwark councillor Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said after the verdict: “There were a lot of vulnerable people at that time who were really scared and didn’t know where to turn.
“And this was a potential cure, so a lot of people believed in it, unfortunately, and succumbed to pay high costs for something we know doesn’t work.
“We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve got this guilty verdict.
“I think it shows that no-one is above the law, but most of all we are going a small way to protecting the community from being defrauded.
“I think it’s important to highlight that we’re not after a faith or a faith organisation as such but this is about an individual person and what he has done.”