The shameful policing of London protests

(A guest post by Nigel Jacklin.) Saturday 28 November was the last weekend in which the UK was under the second national lockdown restrictions. We were in London on business, staying in Kings Cross. When I went to move our car, at around 10.30 on Saturday morning, I noticed that, while the streets were deserted, Kings Cross station was completely surrounded by police in bright yellow jackets. The area was eerily quiet. Police vans of all types were parked all along both sides of Pancras Road and other streets around the station. At around 11.30 one of us went to the shops…

The inhumanity of ‘track and trace’

I received an email from the chairman of 2020 Voice Cancer charity, regarding the treatment of one of his older supporters while on a visit to the seaside. An elderly man, using his mobility scooter, for the reason that he has a terminal cancer which has badly affected his ability to walk, was most grateful to arrive at a waterfront bar. He switched off his scooter, disembarked, with walking stick, and entered: he was desperate to use the toilet which was situated just inside the door and to the left. Having got half way to said toilets he was yelled at by…

Manifesto Club statement on the Rule of 6

MPs today vote on the ‘Rule of 6’ – the limitation on gathering in groups of more than six people. We urge you to email your MP and express your opposition to this statutory instrument. The Manifesto Club statement on this law is below… The UK government’s ban on people meeting in groups larger than six is draconian, undemocratic, and unreasonable. The law makes it a crime for a family of five to meet their grandparents. It criminalises five-a-side football matches and would ban everything from extended family Christmases to children’s birthday parties. It even makes ‘mingling’ into a crime. We have…

Scrap the Rule of 6 – Bring Back Democracy

The UK government has brought through 247 legal orders that have imposed the most dramatic restrictions on our liberties ever. Most of these ‘statutory instruments’ were published only minutes before they came into force. There was no parliamentary discussion or vote. 34 orders were not even laid before parliament before they came into force. This government by decree must end. Current measures include: A ban on people meeting in groups of more than six – across the UK. Local lockdown bans on people in meeting up indoors with people from other households – in areas including Scotland, North-East England (from Wednesday), Birmingham,…

Covid Marshals – The latest yellow-jacketed busybody

The government has announced a new band of ‘Covid marshals’, to patrol Britain’s streets and ensure that no-one is breaking social distancing rules. They will remind people to keep a two-metre distance, enforce one-way pavements, and break up groups of more than six. The Local Government Association (LGA) and police were critical of the announcement, because it has not been costed, nor the wardens given proper powers. But in fact, these institutions – and a whole class of officials – are entirely ready for this development. There is, ready and waiting, a class of wardens absolutely primed for this role. This is…

Against the ‘rule of 6’ – or 8, or 10…

The prime minister has announced that it will be illegal to meet in groups of more than six people from Monday. Many (including apparently most of the cabinet) have argued that children should be exempt, while others argued for a ceiling of eight people. Yet there is a bigger problem with the state engineering of social life in this manner. Time after time, statutory instruments are issued specifying the exact combinations in which people may meet: two households, or up to 30 people, or support bubbles for single-adult households. It then becomes a criminal offence to go beyond the specifications of the…

After 10k fine for protesting, is the right of association dead?

A summary penalty of £10,000 was handed out to Piers Corbyn, for his part in organising a protest against Coronavirus measures in London. The fine was issued under a Statutory Instrument – SI no. 907, or ‘The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions on Holding of Gatherings and Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020’ – which by suspicious coincidence was introduced two days before the rally was due to be held. The instrument was introduced by the health secretary, without parliamentary vote or discussion, and makes it a criminal offence for a person to organise a gathering of more than 30 people in public places or…

Monitoring civil liberties in the lockdown

We are experiencing the most overwhelming restriction on civil liberties that has ever occurred in peacetime. This is an exceptional situation, but the use of state power still needs to be checked and scrutinised. The Manifesto Club is collaborating with the Freedom Law Clinic to monitor the overzealous or unreasonable enforcement of coronavirus regulations. We will be running online seminars for law students and producing a briefing document. If you have experienced unreasonable police enforcement, or have an incident to report, please do get in touch.  

Why shouldn’t people sunbathe?

Brockwell Park in London was closed after what Lambeth council called ‘unacceptable behaviour’ by residents at the weekend. The problem, said the council, was ‘sunbathing’, which went against the ‘clear advice’ from the government about the ‘essential reasons’ for which you may leave your home. The sunbathers came in for much flack on social media, where they were called ‘selfish idiots’ (and worse), who are risking lives and killing others. Sunbathers in #BrockwellPark about to get catch! Exercise🏃🏾‍♂️🏃🏾‍♀️🏋️‍♀️🚴🏻‍♀️ or #StayHomeSaveLives #Lambeth #Brixton pic.twitter.com/W8aZvUNAm7 — Juanne Fuller (@SouthActonGirl) April 4, 2020 But really? As one tweeter pointed out, the 3000 people in Brockwell…

Police should not be allowed to suspend quality of life

There are a worrying number of examples of the police going out of their way to impose needless restrictions upon people, under the guise of the Coronavirus threat. These include – – One man on Facebook reported that police were shouting with megaphones at a couple sitting on a park bench, telling them to move on. They were allowed to walk or run in the park, apparently, but not sit. – Footage of police ordering people off Shepherd’s Bush Green, where they had been lying in scattered pairs or family groups, saying ‘it’s not a holiday, it’s a lockdown’. – Derbyshire Police…

State power still needs to be checked in a lockdown

Today we are living with extraordinary restrictions on our liberties. Ordinary freedoms, such as going for a walk in a park or meeting a friend, are no longer possible. The Coronavirus Bill going through parliament gives state agents unprecedented powers to detain and confine individuals, and to prohibit public events and gatherings. Of course, we are facing an urgent public health situation and this means that things cannot carry on as before. And yet it is more imperative than ever that state power and restrictions are targeted, necessary, open to public scrutiny, and not employed for a minute longer than necessary. Because…