Liberty responds to last-minute local lockdowns across North of England

Posted on 31 Jul 2020

Last-minute ministerial announcements to change the law pave way for “chaos, confusion and police overreach”

Liberty has responded to the “erratic law-making” announced on the night of 30 July that imposed restrictions on parts of the North of England, home to four million people.

On 31 July, the Prime Minister apologised for the last-minute announcement, but Liberty warned that short-notice Ministerial statements to change the law paved the way for “chaos, confusion and police overreach”.

Grey Collier, Advocacy Director at Liberty, said:

“This erratic law-making means that people who stayed with friends last night, went to bed not knowing that when they woke this morning they might be breaking the law.

“Despite apologies from the Prime Minister in this afternoon’s press conference, throughout this crisis the Government has repeatedly announced sweeping changes to the law and fresh criminal sanctions by last-minute ministerial announcement – paving the way for chaos, confusion and police overreach. It is farcical that this continues.

“Failing to properly publish the laws they are imposing makes this even more dangerous for the millions of people affected.

“They have also shown a staggering disrespect to Muslims in the areas affected, by dropping this announcement the night before Eid. We should not be living in fear of unwittingly breaking the law because of the Government’s incompetence and disregard for our rights.”

The Health Secretary announced on Twitter and broadcast between 9pm and 10pm on the night of 30 July that certain parts of the North of England would have greater restrictions imposed within hours.

At midnight the Government published more in-depth guidance on what this means, making clear that it would be illegal for people from different households to meet in a house or garden. They are yet to make clear what laws would be broken or how this will be enforced.

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