A wealthy businessman has launched the legal bid, claiming the coronavirus lockdown will kill more people than it saves. Simon Dolan, whose Jota Aviation company has been delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS, is seeking a judicial review over the Government’s emergency measures that he claims restrict people’s personal liberty.
His legal challenge mirrors the action taken by Gina Miller over Brexit, on the grounds that the lockdown was both legally defective and disproportionate in law.
Accusing the Government of “paralysing the country” and causing “long term damage”, he is calling on Boris Johnson to relax the current lockdown restrictions and introduce three key changes to allow the economy to recover.
This includes permitting gatherings of up to 100 people, reopening schools and reviewing the lockdown restrictions every two weeks.
Mr Dolan’s lawyers have sent a ‘Letter Before Action’ to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, giving him until Thursday May 7 to respond.
Lawyers seek to challenge the Government on three main points.
Firstly, whether the lockdown is unlawful because the Government implemented regulations under the Public Health Act 1984 instead of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 or the Coronavirus Act 2020.
The Government is facing a legal challenge over its decision to impose the lockdown
Simon Dolan has launched the legal challenge
Secondly over the legality of the continuation of lockdown regulation, and whether the tests are too narrow – failing to take account of the economic and social impacts of lockdown.
The final challenge will evaluate if the restrictions contravene the European Convention of Human Rights, which cover the right to liberty, family life, education and property.
As part of the application, Mr Dolan is also requesting the minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) meetings this year.
The letter reads: “Failure to do so [release the minutes] will result in an application for disclosure if proceedings have to be issued.”
The legal challenge requires the Government to justify the decision-making process which led to the lockdown being introduced in March.
It will specifically ask about the scientific evidence and data used by ministers and civil servants to underpin the Government’s policy decisions.
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Boris Johnson said the Government will unveil its lockdown exit strategy next week
If the Government fails to respond to the letter, Mr Dolan’s lawyers will apply for an urgent court hearing.
Mr Dolan, who owns ten UK businesses and employs 600 people, said: “Every day that the lockdown continues it is paralysing the country, wrecking the economy and causing long term damage.
“Boris Johnson has hinted at an exit strategy after declaring we are past the peak.
“But he has offered no timeframe and given himself a get out with the five tests. He seems determined to maintain the lockdown which was brought in on March 23.
“There is still no clarity on how he will get things moving again.
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UK coronavirus lockdown exit strategy
“He has an opportunity now to put things right by allowing gatherings of up to one hundred people, re-opening schools and reviewing the measures every two weeks.”
During yesterday’s coronavirus press conference, the Prime Minister announced the country was past the peak of the virus and said the Government will unveil guidance on how to ease the lockdown next week.
He said: “We will outline a comprehensive plan next week on how we can get our economy moving, children back to school or child care, how we can travel to work and how we can make life in the workplace safer and how we can continue to suppress the disease and at the same time restart the economy.”
But Mr Nolan wants the Government to explain the decisions that led to the nationwide lockdown in the first place.
He said: “We are asking if the process was legal, who took the decision and what data and information were used.
The Government introduced the lockdown in March
Coronavirus UK: Daily new deaths in the UK
“We want to be assured that the measures are proportionate and lawful.”
The businessman suggested the lockdown may not have been necessary to curb the spread of the virus and save lives.
He said: “Every life lost is a tragedy. But we have seen other nations deal with the pandemic effectively without such draconian measures.
“Sweden chose to trust its citizens with sustainable tactics– and Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were also less draconian.”
A crowdfunding page has also been set up, with aims to raise £30,000 to go towards legal fees.
So far Mr Dolan has reached over half of his fundraising target, raising £16,278.
Mr Dolan is represented by Michael Gardner of law firm Wedlake Bell LLP and barrister Francis Hoar of Field Court Chambers.
The campaign has backing from Erica Charles, Managing Director of Spirit Energy, a Berkshire based renewable energy company.