Richard and Judy rapped for Y2K scaremongering

Panic stories and apocalyptic scenarios about the effects of the millennium bug will become a feature of 1999 unless the government takes firm action, according to Taskforce 2000 leader Robin Guenier.

In the last two days, hundreds of panic calls have been made to Action 2000 following a milllennium bug feature on daytime chat show, This Morning. Richard Madeley, describing himself as a millennium "guru" gave the audience a peek into his millennium cupboard, which contained tins of food, candles and medical supplies. Warning people they faced a NewYear "without gas and water", Madeley recommended the stockpiling of at least 10 weeks worth of food.

Condemned by Action 2000 as "irresponsible broadcasting" the campaign group is calling for Granada to make a follow-up programme to reassure viewers. No response from the producers of This Morning has yet been received.

Scare stories like this will increasingly appear in the media, according to Guenier. He called for Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and minister responsible for the millennium bug, Margaret Beckett to make regular speeches to reassure the public essential services will not be affected. "High profile ministers like these need to publicly state there is no need to run to the hills," Guenier said.

Failure to do so could have serious consequences for the economy, Guenier warned. "The Cabinet Office are concerned public panic could be more dangerous than the bug itself. If people take all their money out of the bank in December, there could be disastrous consequences."

Nobody at the Cabinet Office was available for comment.


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