Month: March 2020

COVID pandemic: Doctors sue French government for criminal negligence

With thousands of dead and 29,155 confirmed COVID-19 cases in France, and thousands of health-care professionals infected, six doctors dead and other issues, anger against the government among the public, workers and medical staff is mounting. Like the UK Government, , the French government downplayed the disease and deliberately withheld critical information from the public In response, hundreds of health-care professionals are filing a suit charging top officials with criminal negligence – the only saving grace for the French Government is that they didn’t also bury a report as damning as the Cygnus Report. Could this spread to the UK, lawyers are still flipping through the precedents of ministerial responsibility and liability and the possibility of misfeasance in public office.

The French scandal erupted after ex-Health Minister Agnès Buzyn spoke to Le Monde, blaming Prime Minister Édouard Philippe for not calling off the March 15 first round of municipal elections, the second round of which has since been canceled, and for downplaying her warnings on the pandemic. It appears the interview was an attempt by Buzyn to shift criminal responsibility off her shoulders and onto those of Philippe and French President Emmanuel Macron. Minister Buzyn was apparently following events in China and an English-language blog reported on 20th December that a strange pneumonia was sweeping through China and claims to have alerted the French general health directorate. On January 11, Minister Buzyn claims to have sent a message to the president and on January 30, warned P.M. Édouard Philippe that elections could probably not be held.

Corona is a ticking time-bomb for many Governments

Buzyn made clear that top French officials knew and hid the fact that by not calling for a lock-down to stop COVID’s spread, they were exposing themselves and others to mortal danger. Some claim that by early January, airports should have been closed or passengers subject to immediate quarantine.

When she left the health ministry to briefly run for Paris mayor, Buzyn admitted that she knew a tsunami was coming and was just thinking of the coronavirus. We should have stopped everything. Travel. Public Meetings.

This comes at a time when Ministers in the UK are accused of knowing since 2014 or 2016 that the biggest risk to the UK was Pandemic and that rather than planning for the inevitable Pandemic, the Government continued to maintain the NHS at minimal levels of staffing and equipment and entirely failed to adopt the warnings about PPE, ventilators etc in the Cygnus, Black Swan and other Pandemic Exercises and instead hid the report under a highly classified top secret marking.

The French public are angry about the coverups. They say quite understandably that when there was a nuclear threat in the 1970s, there were regular practices in schools and localities but no consideration given to Pandemic planning. Buzyn’s confession had terrified the Macron government and its allies.
Macron has complained “Why is she saying this now, when it is too late? Does she not realize that she is raising the criminal liability of both herself and the other people she is claiming she warned?” and Mélenchon proposed to drown the scandal in an “information session” of the National Assembly, yet again trying to bury the difficulties that will inevitably rain down on Governments in Europe after the Corona lockdown abates. This will be coupled with a concern about delays in closing borders due to the European open Borders and Schengen policies.

In fact, across Europe, the entire political ruling elite of all leanings has been repeatedly responsible for decades of austerity that devastated health systems, in favour of prestige projects, such as HS2 in the UK. Accusations are being made that Macron’s politically motivated inaction in the early weeks of the Pandemic was criminal just as aim is being taken at Downing street influencers such as Dominic Cummings as well as politicians for not taking the politically unpopular and politically risky steps of protecting the nation against the inevitable pandemic tsunami. As late as early March, government spokespeople were comparing COVID-19 to the flu and insisting that workers should not confine themselves at home and that herd immunity would appear and only the vulnerable and those living with the vulnerable should isolate, only to be bounced later into changing the policy when it was far too late. Prior to lockdown, wildcat strikes erupted across Italy and tens of thousands of industrial workers walked off the job in France and across Europe, forcing state officials to grudgingly approve confinement measures.

As the death toll has mounted among the population and health staff, growing anger and disillusionment with the Macron government has pushed health-care professionals to file suit against Philippe, Buzyn and other officials. Several hundred doctors and health staff represented by the lawyer Fabrice di Vizio have filed a suit to the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), which has jurisdiction to investigate high crimes by top officials.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.jpg

Di Vizio said that his clients were suing based on Article 233, part 7 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates: “Anyone who voluntarily abstains from taking or launching measures that would allow, without risk for himself or third persons, for fighting a catastrophe that could threaten physical persons is punished with two years in jail and a 30,000 euro fine.”

Di Vizio pointed to the growing anger of health staff as they discovered that the government’s various assurances about protective equipment like face masks were lies. In echos of the UK, the complaint alleges that the government told them at the end of February that the masks would arrive, but delayed emergency measures such as using the army for distribution because it would focus attention on the running down of the health service.

Some of the anger is that French firms producing face masks had orders from the British government before the French Government placed orders resulting in lack of availability. Many pandemic specialist doctors say that they have for many years been telling the French authorities that there would be a problem with PPE, ventilators, intensive care beds. (Did someone mention Cygnus again?).

A fight to hold government ministers accountable for their actions in the COVID-19 pandemic has wide support in the working class and this is spreading to the middle classes with polls show that 70 percent of the population does not believe that their government has been telling the truth about the pandemic and prior planning for it; however the task of holding them to account cannot be left to the courts, but will also be the subject of a series of very public and wide reaching and very damaging public enquiries. In France, the General Inspectorate of the Health Administration concluded in its report that health protection was subordinated to economic considerations and political party dogma. Just as there will be a material backlash in China against the secretive PRC, so workers in Europe and internationally are faced with the challenge of struggling to ensure an effective fight against the disease, and as this panic and struggle turns to anger, they will take revenge on a political and financial aristocracy that was responsible.

After weeks of dis-information that masks don’t work, professor says “wear masks!”

After being repeatedly told by the Government that wearing masks doesn’t stop transmission, and despite millions of people in Asia where rates are dropping wearing masks, ….we now find that “The British public’s failure to wear facemasks is hampering our efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus”. heads should roll in the Government after this crisis is over.

So masks may actually provide protection if most people are wearing them, but there may not be enough to go around

KK Cheng, a professor of public health at the University of Birmingham, has finally broken ranks, rubbishing the official Government line about masks saying “Official advice not to use the masks, which are ubiquitous in Asian countries that have already controlled their outbreaks, means we are ignoring “a perfectly sound public health intervention. If each of us had a mask to wear, I just can’t see why transmission would not be reduced, ….If I had to go on the underground I’d use a scarf, handkerchief, anything to cover my mouth.”

and what of the apparently greater number of men dying?
Women have a stronger immunological response due to X chromosomes and the responses that women take will be stronger in their immunological response because the X chromosome contains the coding that maps for anti-viral protein production. This makes their immune systems stronger, but it could also be that statistically men wash their hands less often and are higher risk takers, for example 50% of Chinese men smoke compared with 2% of Chinese women and this will skew figures in China.

It is a matter of orthodoxy at the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that surgical facemasks are of no benefit in the corona fight as far as the public are concerned and officials have long taken the view that paper masks do not protect against viruses and as a consequence the UK does not hold emergency stocks of them. This contrasts with Asia where there is material support in health departments and amongst the public for the use of masks on the basis that the mask protects everyone else from the wearer and therefore there is an understanding in the public that you wear a mask to protect others and that it is your duty to do so.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – a long standing ally of Whitehall in the no-mask camp – announced that it was about to change its advice, and that “…..surgical masks should be used, not for personal protection, but to protect others from Covid-19“.

If the UK had listened to China and not sought to protect itself from criticism that it had not ordered emergency supplies for population-wide use, could the use of masks have slowed the spread of the pandemic in the west? Were our public health officials blindly following dogma in the face of evidence?

Rumour is that Gordon Brown in 2009 wanted the UK to hold a stockpile of masks. The same issue arose in 2009 during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic when the virus was breaking out of Mexico and heading towards Europe and officials in the DHSC, with no specialised training and without the benefit of any scientific data supporting their case, could only look at the question of masks from the perspective of the individual. and despite the fact that since the victorian times, it has been known that the mask protects the patient and not the wearing doctor. In fact, masks provide little protection from viruses which are airborne and can create a false sense of security but this is largely due to them being ill-fitting and needing regular adjustment, causing wearers to touch their hands to their faces and need regularly replacing because they create a potential magnet for germs. – Yet this is a false premise as evidenced by the fact that UK doctors and nurses are so angry about not being provided with enough proper FFP3 respirators.

Corona-antibody health pass under consideration if tests are reliable to allow holders to resume work and travel.

Eight in ten people are now following the government’s coronavirus advice, according to the latest polling.The exclusive Savanta poll for the daily telegraph  found that 83 per cent were following most or all of the lockdown rules, with half (51 per cent) of the population now said to be self-isolating. This is 15 per cent up on this time last week and although around half of people are now consistently working from home when they wouldn’t ordinarily – the figure hasn’t dipped below 40 per cent since last Saturday (March 21), we need those disobeying 17% to continue the spread of the virus so that herd immunity can be achieved without overwhelming the NHS.

Iceland, in line with some other nations, have tested many of their population and found that many of them have already had corona without even knowing it. Corona reached Iceland in February 2020, with 1,135 cases at 31st March, of which 173 have recovered and 2 have died. Iceland with a total population of 364,260 is showing that the infection rate is 1 case per 357 inhabitants which is one of the highest in the world, though this is attributed to more tests have been carried out per capita in Iceland than any other country. The response to the pandemic by Icelandic health authorities has focused on early detection and contact tracing and social distancing measures such as an ban on assemblies of more than 20 persons. As a member of the Schengen area, Iceland is restricting unnecessary travel by persons who are not citizens of the EU, the United Kingdom or the EFTA countries into the area but has not made other formal restrictions against international or domestic travel. Icelandic health officials have used voluntary home-based quarantines for all residents returning from defined high-risk areas and virus testing as the primary means of preventing transmission within the community. Icelandic health officials have tested a proportionately high number of arriving passengers from high-risk areas for COVID-19, with the hope that early detection of infections will prevent their spread.  crucially — the testing also includes people who show no symptoms of the disease. Their effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, compared with most countries who are most exclusively testing only symptomatic individuals. Early results from tests indicate that a low proportion of the general population has contracted the virus and that about half of those who tested positive are non-symptomatic, meaning that they have met the virus and didn’t even know, most of the remainder had only very moderate cold-like symptoms.

Mass testing on the scale adopted in Iceland is unlikely to be feasible across larger countries, but in Italy, localised testing has occurred and has provided evidence revealing that a significant portion of those who catch the disease do so with no or mild symptoms — and confirmed multiple pieces of research that have shown that spread occurs largely via individuals who don’t display symptoms. In the small northern Italian town of Vo, one of the communities where the outbreak first emerged, the entire population of 3,300 people was tested — 3% of residents tested positive, and of these, the majority had no symptoms. The population was tested again after a two-week lockdown and isolation. Researchers found that transmission was reduced by 90% and all those still positive were without symptoms and could remain quarantine.

Tests have found that for every confirmed case of the virus there are likely another five to 10 people with undetected infections and that these often milder and less infectious cases are behind nearly 80% of new cases. Analysis of data from China as well as data from those returning on repatriation flights suggesst that 40-50% of infections are asymptomatic or have a mild reaction similar to influenza. Current models suggest that infectiousness occurs more quickly in symptomatic individuals and that they are more infectious than asymptomatic ones.

The World Health Organization has urged countries to test more suspected cases: “You cannot fight the fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected”. The real solution is to test for the antibody, because if you have the antibody you’re no longer capable of being infectious and you can then resume life as normal as you can’t spread it.

In China, they’re giving people Green Health cards via their phone apps which allow people to go back to work and to travel internally as essential workers; however many countries are Looking at Corona Antibody carriers being given phone-app passes which verify an antibody presence and therefore no carrier or infection risk, with built-in security to allow officials to scan the QR code and see that the green-light Health card has actually been given to that person because it displays their photo and name, but only to authorised officials. This is something that is under active consideration in the UK and with the proviso that if you don’t want to carry the green-light Corona Health card, then you have the right not to but then you must continue to obey the lockdown, and coupled with a huge fine for carrying someone else’s green-light Health card. The app would allow users to remove it from their phone after the crisis is over. The concern in the UK is whether there are enough officials to check people out and about and carrying the card; however it is also thought that a volunteer group. like the NHS volunteers, could be created from Green Corona Health card holders (who are not at risk of catching corona or passing it on).

South Korea, one of the countries first and worst hit after China, quickly put in place the most aggressive testing regime in the world after a cluster of a few dozen cases in early February exponentially ballooned to almost 5,000 cases by the end of that month. The country now has the ability to test about 20,000 people a day. A diagnosis takes about five to six hours and patients usually get results within a day. 268,000 South Koreans have been tested for the virus — about one in every 200 citizens, according to South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha.

After surpassing 8,000 cases, the number of new cases is now smaller than the number of those fully cured. The South Korean foreign minister told the BBC that testing was key. “Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus,” she said. “That is the key behind our very low fatality rate as well.” The data from South Korea is in stark contrast to countries like the UK, where there is currently no community testing of people with symptoms self-isolating at home. The government is under mounting pressure to do more.

Did Mrs May & Jeremy Hunt bury the warnings of Pandemic Exercise Cygnus in 2016?

Ministers from across government were seated, ashen faced, in the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBR) as epidemiologists from Imperial College London were showing details of an epidemic that was enveloping Britain after the first cases of the virus had been confirmed in south east Asia two months previously. Britain reported its first cases, imported from returning travellers, a few weeks later and now there was widespread and sustained domestic transmission in the UK and the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a global pandemic. However it was not the pandemic itself that was causing those gathered in Whitehall to grimace but the nation’s woeful preparation, the fact the NHS was completely underfunded for the event and so stretched under normal operations that it could barely cope before the pandemic. The peak of the epidemic had not yet arrived but local resilience forums, hospitals and mortuaries across the country were already being overwhelmed.  There was not enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for the nation’s doctors and nurses. The NHS was about to “fall over” due to a shortage of ventilators and critical care beds. Mortuaries were expected to overflow, and it had become terrifyingly evident that the government’s emergency messaging was not getting traction with the public and that an economically ruinous lockdown would be needed. The only significant difference between the test drill and the pandemic we now face is that Cygnus was assumed to be the H2N2 influenza virus, while Covid-19 is a coronavirus. Both spread rapidly and kill by causing acute respiratory illness.


Current News?….No, this was a 2016 drill. Code-named Exercise Cygnus and involved all major government departments, the NHS and local authorities across Britain and which showed gaping holes in Britain’s Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) plan ….and the question now is whether the report about what to do was buried by Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt.

The Original report from 2014 entitled Pandemic influenza response plan (here) and the Pandemic Influenza Strategic Framework (here) were reviewed in 2016 as part of Exercise Cygnus . Exercise Cygnus was a simulation exercise carried out by the British government in October 2016, as highlighted in the Powys Pandemic Report  to estimate the impact of a hypothetical influenza pandemic  on the UK and the exercise showed that the pandemic would cause the country’s health system to collapse from a lack of resources, with Sally Davis the then Chief Medical Officer, stating that a lack of medical ventilators and the logistics of disposal of dead bodies were serious problems. As of March 2020, the full results of the exercise remain classified. At least the papers such as New Statesman and the Telegraph are baying for blood even if the Labour opposition is nowhere to be seen. (See the LBC interview here). This tied in with Exercise Black Swan which states that “a new influenza pandemic continues to be recognised as one of the six Tier 1 risks to the United Kingdom in the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015

Why isn’t the report being declassified? The Cygnus exercise was described as a sobering experience.

‘Former Supreme Court justice says Johnson has created a police state’ .

‘Former Supreme Court justice Jonathan Sumption QC has warned that Boris Johnson has started to create a police state.. Listen to the Interview. below. ‘The drive behind the growing power of the state is not power-grabbing politicians, but popular demand. As the technical and administrative capacities of the state expand, so people demand more of it in their constant pursuit of security.
The state must, if it can.
Sometimes the state must, even if it cannot.’
‘Things are different today, but the difference is not wholly benign.
Public pressure for action at whatever cost pushes the measures beyond what they can realistically expect to achieve. It may well push them beyond what is worth achieving if the price is the destruction of our personal liberty, livelihoods and sociability. There are dissenting voices, but not many and they are drowned out in a torrent of collective emotion and abuse.

Lord Sumption warns that the Corona Virus Act has created a Police State and that some elements of the police are disgracefully asserting incorrectly that the Government’s Guidelines are law and that they have the powers to enforce them.

This is a profound change in our political culture. The prime minister’s “orders” on Monday night are a remarkable example. The Coronavirus Bill had only just been introduced into parliament. It would, when passed, confer draconian powers on ministers to control the “gathering” of any two or more people anywhere and to restrict a person’s right to enter of leave any “premises”, including that person’s home or car … or tent. However, in his press conference Boris Johnson purported to place most citizens under virtual house arrest through the terms of a press conference and a statement on the government website said to have “immediate effect”. These pronouncements are no doubt valuable as “advice”, even “strong advice”, but under our constitution neither has the slightest legal effect without statutory authority.

At the time of writing (25/3/2020), Lord Sumption questioned the Prime Minister and said that it was unclear what power the prime minister thought that he was exercising, but this isn’t the first time the PM has been given terrible legal advice by those around in Downing Street – just remember the Supreme Court overturning the “stated law” in relation to Brexit and telling the PM in no uncertain terms that the advice given to the PM was incorrect.

The relevant powers of the government are contained in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. But it is doubtful whether either authorise the Prime Minister’s orders or the Secretary of State for Health’s “guidance” to become automatically law – which is presumably why the Coronavirus Act needed to be introduced.

‘The ordinary rule is that a person may not be detained or deprived of his liberty without specific statutory authority. The 1984 act contains powers to restrict movement, but they are exercised by magistrates and apply only to particular people or groups who have been infected or whom they may have infected. The Civil Contingencies Act confers a temporary power of legislation on ministers that is exercised in a national emergency, but no specific power to detain people at home.

Lord Sumption suggested that ‘In the present national mood the prime minister’s orders will probably have strong public support and people will be inclined to comply whether they are binding or not. Yet we are entitled to wonder what kind of society we have become when an official can give orders and expect to be obeyed without any apparent legal basis, simply because it is necessary. …..There are wider problems about this. Legislation couched in general language can be used for purposes far removed from the original intention. The terrorism legislation, for example, has been used for a variety of other more questionable purposes, ranging from blocking the deposits of insolvent banks in the interests of creditors to manhandling peaceful demonstrators on the streets of London.

He warned that ‘Governments armed with vast powers are usually reluctant to part with them. The wartime defence regulations, which required the population to “place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of His Majesty”, had to be renewed annually, but were not allowed to expire until 1964.. Other wartime powers were expressed to continue until the government declared the war to be over, which it never did. They continued to be used until the 1980s, when the Scott report exposed this unsatisfactory corner of governmental practice. …..These are not just technicalities. There is a difference between law and official instructions. It is the difference between a democracy and a police state. Liberty and the rule of law are surely worth something even in the face of a pandemic.’

Normally such a statement would be repeatedly debated in the media and in the House, but with a supine, timid opposition, more concerned with not offending the public and myopically focussed on its own leadership, we currently have no effective opposition to this Government’s increasing abusive exploitation of the situation.

Schedule 21 – Gatherings

Boris has said that gatherings are banned, that As of now, people must stay at home except for shopping for basic necessities, daily exercise, medical or care need, and travelling to and from work where “absolutely necessary” and that if people do not follow the rules police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings…really?

Firstly there is the question of whether this is a proportionate response to the limited number of corona deaths in the UK…… and the arguments that the proportionate response is to allow those who are not vulnerable and those who are not living with vulnerable people to continue as normal, have their flu-like symptoms and develop herd immunity, thus depriving COVID19 of most of its carriers….and the right of the healthy to choose to get infected and get the illness over with and develop immunity ahead of a risk of the virus mutating into something worse….but leaving Human Rights aside….

It is correct that Schedule 21 prohibits gatherings…however it is very limited in its powers. It is a statute and therefore subject to strict narrow interpretation.

Schedule 21 relates to Powers to issue directions relating to events, gatherings and premises. Premises will take its normal meaning in law of “a building or part of a building usually with its appurtenances (such as the grounds of the premises) and the legislation expressly states that it includes for these purposes “any place” and, in particular, includes (a) any vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft, (b)any tent or movable structure, and (c)any offshore installation (within the meaning given by regulation 3 of the Offshore Installations and Pipeline Works (Management and Administration) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995/738),…but is clearly interpreted as any enclosed or significantly enclosed space and it applies in relation to Crown premises as it applies in relation to any other premises. (This should be contrasted with the possible use of “any land or place” which would cover outdoor as well as enclosed spaces).

Part 2 relates to “Powers relating to events, gatherings and premises in England”. (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar provisions elsewhere in Schedule 21.

The powers only come into force if there is a declaration by the Minister of Health of a serious
and imminent threat to public health in England and if they are an effective
means of (i)preventing, protecting against, delaying or otherwise controlling the incidence or transmission of coronavirus in England, or (ii)facilitating the most appropriate deployment of medical or emergency personnel and resources in England. (In practice this is met…the test is not that the measures are the best means, just that they are a means of achieving these goals. (And just like other provisions, the declaration must be given as soon as the crisis is over).

The Secretary fo State for Health has power to prohibit or otherwise restrict events or gatherings in England, but this is strictly limited. He/she may only exercise the powers for the purpose of either
(a)preventing, protecting against, delaying or otherwise controlling the incidence or transmission of coronavirus, or
(b) facilitating the most appropriate deployment of medical or emergency personnel and resources.

The Secretary of State for Health can do so in relation to
a) a specified event or gathering, or
(b) events or gatherings of a specified description, such as public gatherings of more than 2 people not being in the same family group.
(In the case of a family group, this is an extremely difficult definition and even the tighter definition of A family group living under the same roof Is still problematic because plain use of English would suggest that the family is “living under the same roof” where they are “regularly mixing as they would on Christmas Day”.
In practice, it is difficult to see a couple of police officers trying to enforce powers against a large group of individuals claiming to be a family group living under the same roof.

s5(3) Then gets worse for the government because the power of prohibition restriction can only be used where it has the effect of imposing prohibitions, requirements or restrictions on
(a) the owner or occupier of premises for an event or gathering to which the direction relates;
(b) the organiser of such an event or gathering;
(c) any other person involved in holding such an event or gathering.
(Remember we have already established above that “premises” is an enclosed area, so it is difficult to see how this prohibition can be used in relation to open spaces).

s7 also Makes it very clear that the prohibition powers only apply to organisers.
s7 states “The reference in sub-paragraph 3(c) [i.e. prohibitions, requirements or restrictions…in relation to events & gatherings] does not include a person whose only involvement in
the event or gathering is, or would be, by attendance at the event or
gathering.

However, once told to disperse by a police officer, you could then face a more serious charge of obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty, so you are well advised to disperse if asked, unless you are all living under the same roof when the police officer has no power to ask you to disperse.

This means that there is no power of prohibition requirement or restriction for a spontaneous gathering of people where it has not been organised. So with a group of friends see each other in a park and get together spontaneously, as long as none of them admit to organising it (even spontaneous organisation might be caught), then the powers do not kick in.

There are also sweeping powers to close premises in England or impose restrictions on persons entering or remaining inside them under s8 by reference to (among other things) (a)the number of persons in the premises; (b)the size of the premises; (c)the purpose for which a person is in the premises; (d)the facilities in the premises; e)a period of time.

So, what is the sanction? A person commits an offence if the person fails without reasonable excuse to comply with a prohibition, requirement or restriction imposed on the person
by a direction issued under this Part of this Schedule and a person guilty of an offence under this paragraph is liable on summary conviction to a fine….if the police can show that all of the necessary ingredients of the offence were made out.

A reasonable excuse includes “We’re all in the same family group”

It is also noted that in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, a Minister issuing a relevant restriction may pay compensation, but yet again there is no similar provision in English law. Why?

9

The creation of the police state?

We recently had what should have been the subject of an enormous row in Parliament, the Harry Miller case where Harry Miller was visited and threatened with caution over tweets that officers said were transphobic. Just as there are now police officers threatening people under the covid19 emergency powers in manners that amount to a breach of Human Rights. The problem stems from ill-conceived and poorly debated laws just like the Corona Virus Act 2020. If it wasn’t for Corona panic by the Government and if there was an effective opposition to the Government, then the Miller Judgment at the end of February 2020 would still be reverberating around Parliament, Unfortunately, just like the Corona Virus Act 2020, there was an abdication of parliamentary responsibility to debate these critical matters, just as there has been an abdication of the oppositions duty to question the decision for lockdown.

So firstly what happenned in Miller? Harry Miller is an ex-police officer and was not going to be threatened by police officers that he saw as being OTT. This arose from the ridiculous wording of hate crimes where the subjective nature of the crime appears to be interpreted as whether the victim, however deluded, considers this as a hate crime. The result was that respected High Court Judge Mr Justice Julian Knowles was asked to review the actions of the Humberside Police, but suffice it to say that Mr Justice Knowles was less than impressed with the Humberside police when he gave his judgment on 14th February 2020. He opened by reflecting that “In his unpublished introduction to Animal Farm (1945) George Orwell wrote:
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”” and went on to review the law about Freedom of Speech and Human Rights and the genuine concerns of transgender matters that (para 14) On one side of the debate there are those who are concerned that such an approach will carry risks for women because, for instance, it might make it easier for trans women (ie, those born biologically male but who identify as female) to use single-sex spaces such as women’s prisons, women’s changing rooms and women’s refuges. On the other side, there are those who consider it of paramount importance for trans individuals to be able more easily to obtain formal legal recognition of the gender with which they identify.”

Mrs B (a transgender person, being post-operatively female) reported Harry Miller’s tweets as transphobic and the hate Crime Operational guidance unit of Humberside Police recorded these as non-crime hate incidents and Mr Miller was police went to Mr Miller’s place of work to interview him and as he was not there, spoke to him on the phone. Mr Miller quite correctly complained about his treatment by the police and the interference with his Article 10 Human Rights of free expression over transgender issues and sought judicial review. Mr Miller’s complainant Mrs B didn’t even read the tweets herself, but they were brought to her attention by someone else. They had never met.The judge concluded that Mrs B voluntarily chose to read the tweets and that they were not directed at her.
Humberside Police characterised Mr Miller’s tweets as hate crime “simply on the say so of Mrs B and without any critical scrutiny of the tweets or any assessment of whether what she was saying was accurate.

The judge found that what Mrs B told the police was not accurate. The judge found that PC Gul did not assess whether Mrs B was properly a victim and failed to consider the proper guidelines. PC Gul decided to speak to Mr Miller without consideration of what offences he had in mind or why PC Gul thought there was a risk that matters might escalate to become a crime. PC Gul in interviewing Mr Miller stated that his tweets were “were upsetting many members of the transgender community who were upset enough to report them to the police” – The Judge found this to be untrue. Mr Miller (remember that he is an ex-police officer with years of experience of accurately recording interviews) stated that PC Gul told him that he had been contacted by a person from ‘down south’. He called the tweets ‘transphobic’ and referred to ‘the victim’. He says PC Gul said that the ‘victim’ had called to express concern for employees at the Claimant’s place of work and was concerned it was dangerous for trans people. PC Gul explained that the Claimant had not committed a crime, but that his tweets had been ‘upsetting to many members of the transgender community’. Mr Miller asked PC Gul why he was wasting his time on matters that were not crimes and said “So, let me get this straight, I’ve committed no crime. You’re a police officer. And you need to check my thinking ?”,’ PC Gul answering: ‘Yes’ and Miller replying ‘Have you any idea what that makes you ? ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is a dystopian novel, not a police training manual.’” (This referring to Nineteen Eighty Four novel by George Orwell and the creation of thoughtcrime. Mr Miller described PC Gul’s attitude as wrong, coercive and oppressive, something that Mr Justice Knowles agreed with. The result of the Humberside police intervention was that Mr Miller and his family have been the subject of threats and intimidation. The Judge concluded that the police improperly left Mr Miller with the clear belief that he was being warned to desist from further transgender postings.


A recording of a non-crime hate incident could disclose the maker of the statement or author of the incident in an Enhanced Criminal Record Check and in the words of Mr Justice Knowles (a) the mere recording of a non-crime hate incident based on an individual’s speech is not an interference with his or her rights under Article 10(1); (b) but if it is, it is prescribed by law and done for two of the legitimate aims in Article 10(2); and (c) that HCOG does not give rise to an unacceptable risk of a violation of Article 10(1) on the grounds of disproportionality.
Mr Justice Knowles then went onto say that Mr Miller was contributing to an ongoing debate that is complex and multi-faceted and referred to a number of very respected academics stating that there is a vigorous ongoing debate where people with the opinion encompassed by the phrase “it is a false assertion that trans women are women” are vilified as transphobic and that there is an academic belief that those with different views to the pro-trans community are expressing hatred, bigotry, prejudice or hostility when they are not doing this, but sumply putting forwards legitimately different value judgments.
Mr Justice Knowles concluded that the Police interfered with Article 10 rights of freedom of expression going on to say “In my judgment…… There was not a shred of evidence that the Claimant was at risk of committing a criminal offence. The effect of the police turning up at his place of work because of his political opinions must not be underestimated. To do so would be to undervalue a cardinal democratic freedom. In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society. “

Mr Justice Knowles in his judgement quoted Professor Stocks statement that saying “Trans Women aren’t Women” is not pejorative, expressive, mocking, or disapproving elements. In the mouths of many people, these utterances are intended to convey, and be heard as simple descriptions of observable facts; that is they are intended to be fact-stating and non-evaluative utterances, along the lines of ‘water boils and 100 degrees’ or ‘pillar boxes in the UK are red. For many English speakers, ‘woman’ is strictly synonymous with ‘biologically female and ‘man’ with ‘biologically male’. For these speakers, therefore, given the accompanying true belief that trans women are biologically male, to say that ‘trans women are men’ and ‘trans women
aren’t women’ is simply to neutrally state facts’
”.


Mr Justice Knowles in his judgement also considered the s127 grossly offensive or indecent, obscene or menacing character offence under the Communications Act 2003 and stated that the Miller tweets were nowhere near that offence (and indicated that the Professor Stock quote would not be either. “No reasonable person could have regarded them as grossly offensive, and certainly not having regard to the context in which they were sent, namely, as part of a debate on a matter of current controversy. Nor could they be reasonably regarded as indecent or menacing.”

There is little scope under Article 10(2) of the Convention for restrictions on political speech or on the debate of questions of public interest. Freedom of political speech is a freedom of the very highest importance in any country which lays claim to being a democracy. Restrictions on this freedom need to be examined rigorously by all concerned, not least the courts. The courts, as independent and impartial bodies, are charged with a vital supervisory role. (The same applies to the protection of liberty and freedom in relation to Corona Powers). In the Miller case, Mr Justice Knowles found no justifcatiion for restriction of free speech and there are going to be similar criticisms of the powers under Corona Act.

Mr Justice Knowles also said “I hesitate to be overly critical of Mrs B, given she has not given evidence, but I consider it fair to say that her reaction to the Claimant’s tweets was, at times, at the outer margins of rationality….”
Finally Mr Justice Knowles concluded “Although I do not need to decide the point, I entertain considerable doubt whether the Claimant’s tweets were properly recordable under HCOG at all. It seems to me to be arguable that the tweets (or at least some of them) did not disclose hostility or prejudice to the transgender community and so did not come within the definition of a non-crime hate incident……I conclude that Mrs B’s upset did not justify the police’s actions towards the Claimant including turning up at his workplace and then warning him about criminal prosecution, thereby interfering with his Article 10(1) rights……and in answer to the second question, whether the measure was rationally connected to the objective, flows from the first question. It was not. It was not rational or necessary to warn the Claimant for the reasons that I have given.

As many watched the Prime Minister order what was in effect something very close to mass house arrest on Monday 23rd March, they will have felt revulsion, anger and grief – as anyone brought up when this was a free and well-governed country would do so. They will have watched in horror as the police have exhibited an SS, Stasi or Cheka-like attitude again – as they are criticised for
Telling MP Stephen Kinnock that visiting his father, former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, on his birthday was not essential travel,
Telling shoppers that going to a convenience store to buy Easter Eggs to celebrate Easter with young children was not essential travel.



In a democratic society, the definition of essential travel is a subjective matter for the driver, not an objective one, unless laid down expressly by Parliament, and if there is doubt about the subjective test, then it will be for the magistrates to determine in due course. The test is similar to the emergency test for using the hard shoulder and Alex Ferguson used the ’emergency” defence when caught driving on the hard shoulder to avoid a traffic jam when it was an emergency to get to the toiler.
(The story about the police stopping a driver who was “bored and out for a drive” is a myth. The Police rightly stopped this driver who turned out to be just 15 years old and had no driving licence – so even though his excuse was he was “bored and out for a drive” he was committing numerous traffic offences.).

Many of the so-called offences stem from  a few clauses in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which most barristers had not even heard of. prior to the Corona epidemic and this has draconian powers buried in it which the MPs at the time never actually expected to have to use and not in the way that it is currently being used. Section 45 C (3) (c) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 has Orwellian powers because once the Health Secretary believes there is a threat to public health, he has – or claims to have – limitless powers to do what he likes, ‘imposing or enabling the imposition of restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health’, but beware any police officer relying on that power, because just like PC Gul, you may not actually have the power to legally do what you’re doing or your use of the power may breach Human Rights as highlighted by no lesser legal specialist than Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption who doubts that the Act can be used in this way and warns: ‘There is a difference between law and official instructions. It is the difference between a democracy and a police state. Liberty and the rule of law are surely worth something, even in the face of a pandemic.’……but where is the debate …where is the opposition when it is needed, it has slunk away into hiding, terrified that if it criticises Government it might be open to criticism – more worried about it’s pending leadership battle than about civil liberties.

Despite criticism of the police from the Harry Miller case, have Humberside police decided to protect their reputation? No, they’ve decided to bolster their stasi-like attitude, creating an online portal for reporting people not social distancing. Northamptonshire police reported that ‘We are getting calls from people who say, “I think my neighbour is going out on a second run – I want you to come and arrest them”, so great is the paranoia created and so eager are many of the population to willingly adopt the (fortunately fictitious) concept of a legal duty to report wrongdoers that characterised 1984’s Oceania. What is so wrong with driving to somewhere deserted for a break with your immediate family? You’re is a car where you’re not contaminating anyone else, you’re walking as a family group in the open air, hundreds of feet from the nearest other group….but you must be committing an offence. What is wrong with being 20 and sitting in a park with your girlfriend as long as you’re social distancing? Who is crying out “FOUL!” when the Stasi, sorry the Police, come and tell you to move on or be fined. Where are your civil liberties?

Has Professor Neil Ferguson was one of those largely responsible for the original panic been subject to parliamentary questions? The doctor behind a U.K. college study that painted a chilling scenario over the coronavirus pandemic now says he holds a more optimistic view about the spread in the U.K.

Renowned epidemiologist Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College suggested in his model last week the U.S. and the U.K. would have to continue to shut down for as many as 18 months to avoid catastrophic death, and originally predicted 500,000 deaths in the UK but then testified in front of the U.K’s Parliamentary select committee on science and technology in March that he expects the country to be able to flatten the curve within 2-3 weeks and that he expected the death toll in Britain to be under 20,000. Other from Imperial college who are not epidemiologists revised that doomsday prophecy to 5,700, but now have admitted that they underestimated the numbers and that the 20,000 is likely to be more accurate, but what of the 500,000 deaths prediction ? Has he been held to account about creating panic? Millions of toilet rolls piled in households suggest that he hasn’t, nor will he or the Ministers who blindly ignored the critics of that maths be brought to account. Less likely still will Kier Starmer and his opposition friends be asked why they didn’t behave like an opposition.

SOURCE: DAILY TELEGRAPH

Who has raised questions about the Oxford University alternative figures.? These suggested an entirely different scenario. The Rival view, from distinguished scientists at Oxford University, led by Sunetra Gupta, Professor of theoretical epidemiology suggests less than 1 in 1000 infected with Covid-19 will become ill enough to need hospital treatment, and most of those will be over 75. Yet we’re ruining the economy based on the Ferguson induced paranoia. And where are the figures saying that deaths today for corona and influenza are 145, compared with a typical seasonal death rate for influenza of 95, trying to put a balance on the figures and the fear.

It is fascinating, looking at how different countries which have adopted different methods of dealing with the virus and to see how little pattern there is within the experts globally. As Peter Hitchins has been highlighting for weeks, even Hong Kong and Singapore, similar city states which had a similar outcome, adopted different policies.

 If the Government do finally release us from mass arrest, then we should not blindly praise them for wrecking the economy but saving lives, we should hold their feet firmly to the fire of post-corona scrutiny, demanding proof and an independent enquiry into why the NHS was so woefully under-resourced that there is no longer spare capacity to deal with a crisis, why there was no pre-planning for a pandemic meaning that NHS workers had to work without adequate PPE, why lockdown was favoured over the alternative of saying “If you’re vulnerable or live with the vulnerable, stay at home, we’ll help you out, but if you’re under 40 and healthy, keep working, you’ll mostly have a mild illness and then build up herd immunity.?Why did it take so long for the Government to order PPE into place when in early January it was clear that there was a pandemic coming from China? Did China cover it up and if so what sanctions need to be taken against the People’s Republic….and most importantly, what lessons do we need to learn ahead of the next pandemic which could have a kill rate, not of 1% to 3% (depending on who you believe) but 50%.

We should not be grateful to be let out of lockdown. We should be very very angry that we were locked down in the first place. if this could have been avoided.

Schedule 20 – the infected

In true zombie apocalypse movie style, there are sweeping powers in the Corona Virus Bill in relation to “Potentially Infectious Persons”

What is a potentially infected Person (PIP) – we are all potentially infectious unless we’ve had corona, and if it is correct that your can have it twice, then we are all potentially infectious until we’ve had it twice….. but the Schedule 20 of the Corona Virus Bill doesn’t relate to “Any Person”….soo what does it actually mean?

SCHEDULE 20
Powers relating to potentially infectious persons
Schedule 20 confers powers relating to potentially infectious persons and makes related provisions

A person is “potentially infectious” at any time if—
(a)the person is, or may be, infected or contaminated with coronavirus,
and there is a risk that the person might infect or contaminate others
with coronavirus, or
(b)the person has been in an infected area within the 14 days preceding
that time.

The language of this part of the legislation leaves a lot to be desired. As any person may be, infected with corona virus (unless arguably they have had corona and have the anti-bodies), then the obvious wording could have been “Any person who has not had corona and recovered so that they have anti-bodies to the virus” (i.e. COVID-19 Recovered Individuals or CovRIs) but the legislation chose not to refer to recovered people (CovRis) so the draftsman clearly wanted to cover those infected. so sub-paragraph a) must mean a person who is infected or contaminated with the virus ……but as the power is one where police have powers to detain etc, then they obviously can’s and aren’t expected to do the test instantly, …..the police can therefore suspect that you “may be” infected. As established above, as it isn’t an “Any Person may be a potentially infectious person” interpretation, then the intention of the draftsman must be that a police or health officer gets powers if they reasonably suspect that a person is or may be infected …i.e. they are exhibiting symptoms.

And what of “contamination”, this is so poorly drafted as to be meaningless…. the medical advice is you can be contaminated by touching a door handle or railing….so what was the intention of the ‘contamination” provision. This is probably designed to catch the handful of people who will deliberately go out of their way to contaminate others with Corona, those disturbed individuals who have corona or have family with corona and use infected tissues etc to try to contaminate others.

So …assuming you are a PIP, what happens? Powers to direct or remove persons to a place suitable for screening and assessment arises….Yes you can be taken away to be tested if a public health officer PHO has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person in England is
potentially infectious. The PHO can “direct the person to go immediately to a place specified in the direction which is suitable for screening and assessment” and if they don’t go voluntarily then they can be “removed to a place suitable for screening and assessment” – presumably by force, and similarly the PHO can request a constable to remove the person to a place suitable for screening and assessment (and the constable may then do so).

However under s6(3) the PHO can only exercise the power in relation to a PIP if the officer considers that it is necessary and proportionate to do so
(a)in the interests of the person,
(b)for the protection of other people, or
(c)for the maintenance of public health
However, although this is a wide test, the PHO will have to be certain of being able to prove that they are acting in the interests of the PIP (difficult if they turn out to be healthy and were not showing symptoms of corona and especially so where the PIP says “I have all the symptoms of influenza and not corona” or where the PIP doesn’t have symptoms. The protection of others would only arise in circumstances where they are at risk – if infected – of contaminating others, so it is unlikely to arise in relation to the non-symptomatic in open public spaces. The only other grounds are the maintenance of public health, which is a really difficult argument because the scientists don’t agree whether lockdown is best or whether letting the healthy get infected is best because it creates herd immunity.

,,,,and that is before the test of whether the maintenance of public health is tested against the road traffic deaths in the UK annually and the argument surrounding acceptable death rates.

CORONA VIRUS ACT 2020 in force

Emergency laws to deal with the pandemic have been rushed through both Houses and were given Royal Assent earlier on Wednesday. 

Although poorly drafted, and not properly scrutinised, the Act has become law in what amounts to an emergency power.

We are updating the site shortly 0 but you should assume that all powers are in force from the Act, and that the arrest, dispersal and quarantine powers are now fully in force.

MPs voted to plan for a managed return to work on Tuesday 21 April, to deal with Budget legislation. The House of Commons had been due to break for Easter next week but concerns were raised about spreading the virus.

MOT 6-month window

Motorists worried about getting an MOT because of the coronavirus crisis, have been handed a six-month reprieve. The government has granted car owners a six-month exemption from MOT testing if their MOT expires after 30th March 2020. (Note that the provisions won’t come in until Monday 30 March which means vehicles due an MOT before then must still get a new MOT; however , drivers will still need to get their vehicle tested until the new regulations come into place if they need to travel, but if someone is unable to get an MOT because they are self isolating, the Department for Transport said it is working with insurers and the police to ensure people are not unfairly penalised for things out of their control and they will need to have an MOT as soon as possible.

It rather shows how ill-prepared government was for the risk of pandemic, despite it being warned about since the early days of SARS. that a major worldwide pandemic was likely in the near future.

MOTs being suspended

The exemption will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine, as well as accomodating the new batch of NHS volunteers; however drivers must be aware that garages will remain open for essential repair work and that drivers will face prosecution if they’re caught driving unsafe vehicles even if they are covered by the MOT extension. The exemption will apply to cars, motorcycles and vans, but the government warned that vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition.

The Department for Transport said the move won’t hit any insurance claims during the period because they will be effectively extending MOT certificates meaning they will remain valid for insurance purposes

Practical driving tests and annual testing for lorries, buses and coaches have already been suspended for up to three months.