|Update on Join the Legal Challenge to the UK Govt Lockdown
Our battle against the Government’s lockdown will go before a High Court judge on July 2.
The date – which will mark the 101st day since the UK was placed into lockdown – has been set aside for an application for permission to seek Judicial Review. This hearing is the important first step in the process and is the first official court date in our legal challenge.
It was set just days after the Government found itself under-fire following the claim in its defence papers that it had not ordered schools to close and that it was merely a “request”that they did.
The revelation sparked backlash from schools and parents alarmed over how the trick of words from Prime Minister Boris Johnson has meant more than 11 million children being out of school since March 23. Many private schools declared they would be opening regardless in September “come what may”, using hygiene measures and their own test and trace measures.
While lockdown means the hearing will take place via video link and not physically in the High Court, it will follow normal rules in terms of access to the public and media.
The Government will be represented by one of country’s top QCs, First Treasury Counsel Sir James Eadie. Its legal team also includes 3 barristers.
July 2 will be just over 100 days since lockdown and what has happened every day in this period underlines how important the Judicial Review is.
In that time, £2.5bn has been wiped off the UK economy each day, millions of children are shut out of school, the NHS faces a waiting list explosion, and the freedoms of liberties everyone in the UK have been trampled over. In all this time, the Government has shown the agility of a beached whale.
It has sought to kick this legal process into the long grass time and time again. Even its response was issued 3 minutes before the deadline. Its strategy seems to be to label our claims as ‘absurd’ and to shut down any scrutiny of the most draconian set of rules this country has known.
We have already forced the publishing of the SAGE meeting minutes, and unmasked the closure of schools as a trick of words from a government now trying to weasel its way out of a decision around education which is a stain on the history of this country.
There has been no democratic process on lockdown, which is why we must turn to the courts. Few people will realise there was a debate over the lockdown in the Commons recently. It is a disgrace that only a handful of MPs attended – a point made by some of the MPs themselves – this is why I believe the legal work to unpick the Government’s actions as part of the Judicial Review is so vital. Lockdown must end now.
The Judicial Review will seek to challenge the Government on three main points:
• Whether lockdown is unlawful because the Government implemented regulations under the Public Health Act 1984 instead of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 or the Coronavirus Act 2020.
• The legality of the continuation of lockdown, and whether the tests for lifting it are too narrow, failing to take account of the economic and social impacts of lockdown.
• Whether the restrictions brought in by the Government contravene the European Convention of Human Rights, which cover the right to liberty, family life, education and property.
We are represented by Michael Gardner of law firm Wedlake Bell LLP and barrister Francis Hoar of Field Court Chambers. Philip Havers QC, a barrister and Deputy High Court Judge who specialises in public law, human rights and public inquiries, is also instructed as part of the legal team.