Government-imposed Covid lockdowns and other brakes contain all the ingredients of totalitarianism, warns a former Supreme Court judge.
Stay-at-home orders and the series of new laws to restrict what people can do are a “mind-boggling” violation of democratic rights, Lord Sumption will say in a speech this evening.
He has repeatedly warned that ministers have overstepped their legitimate powers, but these criticisms are the sharpest to date.
He will tell the Cambridge Law School that the use of coercion to try to quell the pandemic is unprecedented in British history, even in times of war, and that it goes against fundamental freedoms.
Lord Sumption will accuse ministers of using the police to quell opposition to their policies, of creating new criminal offenses without the legal right to do so and of grabbing unconstitutional powers by issuing deceptive directives.
Stay-at-home orders and round-ups of new laws to restrict what people can do are a “mind-boggling” violation of democratic rights, Lord Sumption will say in a speech tonight
He means that the methods used by ministers will destroy the unity of society and lead to an authoritarian government in the long term.
Lord Sumption will say ministers avoided Parliament thanks to the Public Health Act which allowed them to introduce lockdowns and other measures without the same level of scrutiny from the House of Commons or the Lords.
Giving the Cambridge Freshfield annual law conference, he will accuse the government of presenting guidance “tendentiously” as if it were the law – like the two-meter social distance rule.
He will also say the government has given the police “unprecedented discretionary” enforcement powers, some of which have been used to quell opposition to their policies, reports The Telegraph.
Lord Sumption will speak of new criminal offenses created on ‘mere advice from ministers’, with fines of up to £ 10,000 constitutionally ‘truly mind-blowing’.
This has been achieved through the “language of impending doom”, “alarmist” projections and statistical manipulation, he will say.
He will tell Cambridge Law School that the use of coercion to try to quell the pandemic is unprecedented in British history, even in times of war, and that it runs counter to fundamental freedoms. A family is seen seated to watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson address the nation in March
It will also issue a chilling warning that the government’s actions pose a serious threat to reshape the state-public relationship into a shift to a more authoritarian political style, which will survive the current crisis.
The intervention comes amid growing tension over rules designed to reduce infections, such as level three restrictions in the north of England.
Lord Sumption, who resigned from the Supreme Court in 2018, will warn that the effects of the coronavirus coercion are corrosive to democracy and will lead to resentment among those most affected, including the poor and young.
He will warn that the methods used by ministers will destroy the unity of society and lead to long-term authoritarian government.
The attempt by the Premier of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to shut down shops selling goods deemed non-essential under a ‘firewall’ policy has led to public anger and widespread ridicule.