The Weekly Round-Up: “Freedom Day” delayed

15 June 2021 by

In the News:

The Prime Minister’s recent decision to delay plans to lift coronavirus restrictions by a month has been met with criticism among some legal commentators. The removal of restrictions is now due to take place on 19 July, instead of 21 June. The new deadline was described by the PM as a “terminus date” after which we must “learn to live with Covid”.

In his announcement, the Prime Minister cited the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 90% of cases in the UK, and promised to use the extra time to accelerate the vaccination programme. New analysis by Public Health England shows for the first time that two doses are highly effective against hospitalisation from the variant. More than half of UK adults have had their second jab, including 91% of people over 50, and people as young as 18 will be invited to book a jab from the end of the week.

Former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, a prominent critic of the government’s lockdown measures, called the continued lockdown “wicked” and raised the “extreme example” of “Nazi race laws” in arguing that there was no moral obligation to comply with certain laws. In response, barrister Adam Wagner quipped that Lord Sumption’s comments represented “the best case for his own argument that judges should not get involved in politics.”

Elsewhere, however, Wagner acknowledged that the courts have been reluctant to intervene with Covid restrictions, but suggested that at this stage a legal challenge to a refusal to allow a business such as a nightclub to open to double vaccinated customers might be effective. Wagner suggested that “the continued closure of a small number of businesses when the balancing factors have radically changed due to vaccination” might engage Article 1 of protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which requires any interference with the ‘peaceful enjoyment of property’ to be proportionate. The delay is predicted to cost UK hospitality £3bn in lost sales and have a “critical impact on struggling businesses.

The announcement was widely anticipated and the public response has been understated. However, it remains to be seen whether the midsummer “terminus date” will truly put lockdowns behind us once we enter the darker, colder months of this pandemic’s second year.

In Other News:

  • Despite heightened public attention to sexual assault and harassment as a result of Sarah Everard’s murder, the new Labour crime commissioner for West Midlands police, England’s second biggest force, has warned that rape trials will be the hardest hit by the growing backlog in the justice system. There are nearly 58,000 outstanding crown court cases and more than 450,000 magistrates court cases in the system. In a recent speech to the Law Society, the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, emphasised that his priority was “those who have been a victim of crime”, and outlined plans to recover the legal system from COVID-19.
  • Statistics published last week have revealed that the number of applications for judicial review fell 16% in 2020. The statistics might encourage academics, lawyers and former judges who have expressed concerns over the government’s proposed reform of judicial review, which, according to the Queen’s Speech in May, would serve to “restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts.”
  • The High Court has ruled that Michael Gove broke the law in awarding a contract to his associates at Public First. The Court agreed with the Good Law Project’s argument that a reasonable observer would think there was a real risk Public First won the contract because of favouritism. It therefore gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.
  • On the four year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, which claimed 72 lives in the early hours of 14 June 2017, a critical assessment of politicians’ progress towards delivering pledges made in the aftermath has been published. Promised improvements to building safety regulations, social housing reform and the implementation of recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry had not been actioned.
  • The Home Office, which has come under particular scrutiny during the pandemic, was condemned by a number of human rights organisation for introducing 24-hour GPS monitoring of people on immigration bail. Critics argue that the move would effectively grant the Home Office new surveillance powers extending well beyond their stated purpose; a Home Office spokesperson responded that GPS tracking is widely used in the criminal justice system, and “we make no apology for keeping the public safe and clamping down on those who have no right to be in the UK.”  

In the Courts:

  • Forstater v CGD Europe & Ors (Religion or Belief Discrimination) [2021] UKEAT: while acknowledging that “some trans persons will be disappointed by this judgment”, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that a claimant who held gender-critical beliefs, including that sex is immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity, had been discriminated against when her views came to light and her visiting fellowship was not renewed. At first instance, the Tribunal held that the claimant’s belief did not fall within the meaning of s.10 of the Equality Act 2010 because it was “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”. Allowing appeal, the EAT held that in order for a belief to be excluded on this basis, it would have to be akin to Nazism or totalitarianism and thereby liable to be excluded from the protection of rights under Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) by virtue of Article 17 thereof. The claimant’s views did not fall into this category. However, the EAT emphasised the protections owed to trans persons by their employers, and stressed that it had not expressed any view on the merits of either side of the transgender debate.
  • P (Circumcision: Child in Care) [2021] EWHC 1616 (Fam) (14 June 2021): the High Court (Family Division) refused an application by a 21 month old boy’s birth mother for him to be circumcised, in accordance with the custom of his biological parents’ Muslim faith and contrary to the wishes of his non-Muslim Special Guardians. Counsel for the boy’s mother contended that Article 9 of the ECHR was engaged (Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion). Mr Justice Cobb observed that this right included a freedom to “change his religion or belief and freedom”. Mr Justice Cobb accepted that the issue was “finely balanced”, but concluded that the decision to circumcise the boy should be deferred until he was able to make his own choice in the matter.  
  • Akinsanya, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Rev 1) [2021] EWHC 1535: in the High Court (Administrative Court), Mr Justice Mostyn made an order quashing the decision made by the defendant Secretary of State refusing the claimant’s application under the EU Settlement Scheme as a ‘person with a Zambrano right to reside’ due to their limited leave to remain. The Secretary of State had erred in law in considering limited leave to be a Zambrano extinguishing factor; indefinite leave, and nothing less, would debar an application from being made. It was “troubling, to say the least”, that the Home Office had published guidance “requiring staff to ignore the clear terms of [Regulation 16 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016], and therefore to act unlawfully.”

On the UKHRB:

  • In the latest episode of Law Pod UK, Emma-Louise Fenelon speaks to Bill Browder, justice activist, about the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in pre-trial detention in Russia after uncovering and exposing a $230m tax fraud.
  • Dominic Ruck Keene sets out a recent High Court decision that a council was not liable for its ‘failure to remove’ the claimants from their abusive family home.  
  • Charlotte Gilmartin summarises the Grand Chamber of Human Right’s finding that certain aspects of the UK’s regime governing bulk interception of communications were contrary to Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention.
  • Rosalind English explains a High Court decision to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment from an infant born with catastrophic brain injury, whose parents objected based on their Chassidic Judaic faith.
  • Harry Sanders highlights the unfolding, underreported humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia.
  • Rosalind English summarises a detailed German judgment which examines what the government actually knew and should have known about the  situation prevailing when lockdown was imposed in March 2020.

3 comments


  1. S England says:

    I’m so pleased that the Blog has privileged men’s feelings about women’s essential rights in its report on Forstater. Hum.

    A huge win for women and their freedom of speech, women having had their freedom of speech severely limited, for several years, would be the balanced way of reporting this case.

    It is a vital case for the protection of freedom of speech in the UK today. It is a great day when women and their supporters active in protecting their essential rights can no longer be slurred as Nazis or totalitarians.

    I am sorry to know that ‘some trans persons will be disappointed’ that women now have their freedom of speech effectively restored.

    Women, and other defenders of human rights for all, are so pleased to know how happy your Blog is at the result of this crucial case. Hum.

    What a bizarre way of reporting this case. I hope that the Blog will improve its reporting of cases.

  2. Menno says:

    Few things get my blood boiling as the term ‘Freedom Day’. It just shows how English politics is led by popular, aggressive media. With their ‘Freedom Day’ and now ‘Terminus Day’ the government paints itself into a corner. Had it used data as the criterium for the measures people would have felt motivated and made partly responsible to work towards those criteria. With ‘Terminus Day’ people lay back and let the government take care of it

  3. Teresa Evans says:

    Delayed plans to lift coronavirus restrictions.

    Appears to me that the “balancing factors” to whether a vaccine is even required “radically” changed on March 19th, 2020 when Public Health England downgraded Covid-19 from being a high consequence infectious disease. That can be shown here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/high-consequence-infectious-diseases-hcid

    This crucial factor was not even touched upon during Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee meeting held on February 4th, 2021 re “oral evidence session): Data Transparency and Accountability: Covid 19”. I am reliably informed that members of the committee did not choose to discuss this matter during the inquiry.

    Furthermore, with long tried and tested therapeutics to successfully treat all coronaviruses, eg Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, I share the view of many non-political scientists, that these type of therapeutics mean (1) there is no ‘pandemic’ and (2) that a ‘vaccine’, is not required.

    No ‘vaccine’, means a ‘vaccine passport’ is also a non essential item.

    I wouldn’t count on restrictions being fully lifted anytime soon as government has commissioned a Covid advertising campaign until 2023, although the information appears to have now been taken down from gov.uk. https://hugotalks.com/2021/03/18/uk-govt-book-covid-advert-campaign-until-2023-hugo-talks-lockdown/

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