IN his Mail on Sunday column this week, Peter Hitchens made the case for putting the ‘lockdown’ in the dock. He wrote: ‘So many people were quick to go to court over the European issue, which is a far smaller matter than the current wrecking of our economy and throttling of our once-safe liberties. But, so far, there has been silence in the courts over the Government’s decision to put us all under house arrest, the first attempt in history to quarantine the healthy rather than the sick. I gather this is pretty certainly unlawful, as the 1984 Public Health Act was never designed to be used for such a wide purpose. But, if it is to be tested, a group of public-spirited citizens, helped by sympathetic lawyers, need to come together quickly to seek a judicial review of the shutdown in the High Court. They also need to win what is called a ‘pre-emptive order on costs’ to ensure the Government pays for the case, as is only right in a matter of such importance. I hope this happens.’
As he’s explained elsewhere, the rather questionable legal basis for our mass house arrest is a document called The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, itself based on the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.* Apart from those without homes, Hitchens has written: ‘We are constrained by Regulation 6, paragraph (1), which says, bluntly and humiliatingly: “During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse”.’
Do you agree with Peter Hitchens that a judicial review of the lockdown in the High Court is urgently needed? Discuss!
* The Coronavirus Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 19 March 2020. In its original form, the Bill consisted of 87 clauses and 27 schedules. Following an expedited passage through Parliament this increased to 102 sections and 29 Schedules by the date of Royal Assent (25 March 2020).Further comment on the legislation can be found here and on the police powers it grants, here.