United Kingdom

Former top judge brands coronavirus curbs tyrannical

Lockdowns and other Government-imposed Covid curbs contain all the ingredients of totalitarianism, a former Supreme Court judge warns.

Orders to remain at home and rafts of new laws to restrict what people can do amount to a ‘breathtaking’ infringement of democratic rights, Lord Sumption will say in a speech tonight.

He has repeatedly warned that ministers have been exceeding their rightful powers but these criticisms are his strongest yet.

Orders to remain at home and rafts of new laws to restrict what people can do amount to a ‘breathtaking’ infringement of democratic rights, Lord Sumption will say in a speech tonight

He will tell the Cambridge Law Faculty that the use of coercion to try to quell the pandemic is unprecedented in British history, even in wartime, and that it runs against basic freedoms.

Lord Sumption will accuse ministers of using the police to suppress opposition to their policies, of creating new criminal offences without the legal right to do so, and of grabbing unconstitutional powers by issuing misleading guidance.

The intervention comes amid growing tension over rules meant to reduce infections, such as the Tier Three restrictions in northern England.

Lord Sumption, who stepped down from the Supreme Court in 2018, will warn that the effects of coronavirus coercion are corrosive of democracy and will lead to resentment among those worst affected, including the poor and the young. 

He will warn that the methods used by ministers will undo the unity of society and will lead to long-term authoritarian government.

The attempt by the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to stop shops selling goods said to be non-essential as part of a ‘firebreak’ policy has led to both public anger and widespread ridicule. 

He will tell the Cambridge Law Faculty that the use of coercion to try to quell the pandemic is unprecedented in British history, even in wartime, and that it runs against basic freedoms. A family is seen sitting down to watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson address the nation in March

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