IN THE last few weeks the High Court has thrown out two big Covid vaccine legal challenges. Last Tuesday they said No to a judicial review to stop mandatory vaccination for health care workers, and in September they threw out a bid to injunct and pause the vaccination of children and teenagers aged 12 to 17.
I was in court for both cases, and heard the judges put intelligent and insightful questions to the claimants’ legal teams. Both justices clearly found their well-constructed arguments on the vaccines’ questionable efficacy, and arguments about bodily autonomy, compelling and unsettling. Despite this, they sided with the government using the pandemic as a get-out clause.
Solicitor Stephen Jackson, whose firm Jackson Osborne brought both cases, said: ‘The court absolved itself from any need to consider the extent of the investigation made by the government into Covid vaccines and the analysis they’ve made. So basically, what they are saying is that the government have consulted experts and are not going to look at it any further.
‘The court’s position is that there’s a particularly wide margin of discretion where the government is considering complex data and science. They say that the Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid, is entitled to rely upon the advice of the experts he goes to.
‘It gives the government a blank cheque. As long as they have taken advice from an expert body, the court assumes their advice is correct. If you turn up to court and seek to challenge that advice, they say you are simply presenting an alternative expert view, but you cannot establish that the expert advice seen by the government is unreasonable or irrational.’
It seems that the vaccine juggernaut is unstoppable, despite growing evidence of irreparable harms and even death, with more than 1,700 fatalities reported. The argument is that this is a minuscule number considering that 55.6million doses have been given.
The government is fully aware of vaccine harm and has known about it since the 20th century childhood vaccination schedule was introduced in 1959. It considers that collateral damage, however severe, serves the common good. We should just shut up and take one for the team.
Each vaccine can leave its own deadly calling card and Covid jabs are no different. The ones used in the UK are produced by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Their particular signature is blood clots and low platelets (VITT), inflammation of the heart in the form of myocarditis and pericarditis (particularly affecting young men), Guillain-Barré syndrome (an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nerves and can cause paralysis), and Bell’s palsy (temporary paralysis affecting one side of the face).
None of these horrors concern the judiciary yet, which is endlessly frustrating for Stephen Jackson and barrister Francis Hoar QC, who was involved in both cases.
Jackson said: ‘The courts are very reluctant to interfere with government decisions. If they feel they might be treading on political ground, then they steer a wide course.
‘The way they avoid interference is to cite the pandemic. The pandemic trumps everything.’
Millionaire entrepreneur Simon Dolan failed in his bid to obtain a judicial review earlier this year. He planned to challenge the government over lockdowns and mask wearing, claiming that Boris Johnson and Co had acted illegally and disproportionately. His defeat set the tone.
‘In the Simon Dolan case they basically said that there’s a two-stage process; first stage: it’s a pandemic, next stage is that the government has a very wide discretion as to their response,’ Jackson said.
‘In the care home case, they went further and said they had looked at a European Court of Human Rights case, heard in April, where Czech parents challenged the state’s mandatory vaccine schedule for nursery school children. It was a case where children were excluded from premises of education unless they had their vaccines. The judge who heard the care workers case said that what the government is doing now is nothing very different.
‘What the court doesn’t recognise in that analogy is that in the Czech case you are talking about very well-established vaccines with long safety records. By comparison we’re still looking at experimental technology with Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines, which remain under trial until 2023. We still don’t know the long-term effects.’
The same applies to children. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said covid vaccines offer very little benefit to the under-18s and recognised that they have the potential to harm. They recommended against routine vaccination for this age group, but the UK’s four chief medical officers (CMOs) overruled them saying that the JCVI hadn’t taken into account the school days they might lose, and the effect that being locked out of education would have on their mental health. In contrast, the CMOs did not take into account potential vaccine damage, days off school because of adverse reactions and time spent away from class to receive the jabs.
A judicial review is where the courts are asked by citizens adversely affected by government rules to review the decisions made by them. In 2018 there were 3,597 claims lodged but only 184, or 5 per cent, proceeded to a full hearing. Of the cases heard, 50 per cent were won, so there are chances at victory. The government knows this, abhors challenge and feels that the judicial review process is being used to excess, having lost two high profile cases, one on Brexit and the other on the prorogation of Parliament.
Bloodied, battered and humiliated, the Conservatives now want to change the law to restrict judicial reviews. In July, Johnson introduced the Judicial Review and Courts Bill which former Secretary of State David Davis called ‘a worrying assault on the legal system and an attempt to avoid accountability’.
Covid cases are challenging, based on complex science which judges do not necessarily have the skills to weigh up. Both Justice Robert Jay, who heard arguments in the child vaccination hearing, and Justice Philippa Whipple, appointed to rule in the care home challenge, indicated this. Jay almost threw up his hands at one point saying in effect, I don’t understand this, this is all science. Whipple modestly asked for the arguments to be kept simple saying: ‘I am a bear of very little brain. These are matters of complex data and science.’
Listening, it felt both were looking for a back door escape route.
The care home case was brought by two care home workers. One, Julie Peters, from Poole, a former programme director of Barchester Healthcare, a large provider with over 200 locations, was sacked for refusing the jab. She said: ‘I’ve lost my job, the government has changed the law so that although technically, I can fight for unfair dismissal, it’s likely I would lose. I also lost the challenge to overturn the legislation making vaccination mandatory for care home workers. So, any hairdresser, electrician, cleaner, occupational health care worker, or care home staff now has to have a vaccine to enter a care home. I’m pretty devastated.’