Dolan loses legal fight over High Court challenge to ‘draconian’ lockdown

Simon Dolan has lost his bid to bring a High Court challenge against the government over the coronavirus lockdown.

Entrepreneur Dolan, whose interests span accountancy to motorsport, raised more than £200,000 via crowdfunding to seek a judicial review of the restrictions of movement imposed in England back in March to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Dolan vowed to continue with the case as the lockdown was gradually eased ahead of his day in court last week.

Judgment was reserved until Monday.

Mr Dolan said: at the time the legal action was launched in June that his aim was to have the rules declared illegal and to “get Britain back and working”.

He wrote on his Crowdjustice page: “We believe that the govt has acted illegally and disproportionately over the COVID -19 lockdown and we are taking action.

“By forcing people to stay at home, and forcing businesses to close, they are, we believe, in contravention of basic Human Rights offered under English Law, that of the right to enjoy your property peacefully.”

The businessman, who is worth £200m according to the Sunday Times Rich List, told his Twitter followers than an appeal was being considered in the wake of Monday’s judgment.

“The most draconian laws ever introduced in England, with no Parliamentary scrutiny and they are seen to be fit and proper by the Courts. England 2020”, he wrote.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Lewis said that the rules in force on 2 July – the day of the hearing in the case – “did involve a restriction on the freedom of assembly and association”.

But he added: “The context in which the restrictions were imposed, however, was of a global pandemic where a novel, highly infectious disease capable of causing death was spreading and was transmissible between humans. There was no known cure and no vaccine.

“There was a legal duty to review the restrictions periodically and to end the restrictions if they were no longer necessary to achieve the aim of reducing the spread and the incidence of coronavirus. The regulations would end after six months in any event.

“In those, possible unique, circumstances, there is no realistic prospect that a court would find that regulations adopted to reduce the opportunity for transmission by limiting contact between individuals was disproportionate.”

Dolan added: “The judgment today not to grant permission for Judicial Review is incredibly disappointing for me and the thousands of other people who helped to fund it.

“The Government imposed the most draconian set of rules this country has ever known. Yet today’s decision means that the courts believe it is perfectly fair and reasonable for the Government to be able to lockdown its entire population and take-away livelihoods whenever it chooses – without having to justify its actions.

“It says the power to do so rests with a Minister– in this case Matt Hancock – and “other public bodies” and that they can take away our freedoms without being properly held to account by parliament or the judiciary. This isn’t the Great Britain we all know.

“The judgement does not engage with, or consider on any analytical level, the vital issues we set out in the case. Nor does it take into account the impact all this has taken on ordinary people.

“I do not feel the judge has engaged on an appropriate level with the 100s of pages of evidence the legal team put together.

“My barristers and solicitor are currently analysing the full judgment with view to an appeal.

“While it is a disappointing final decision, we did score some vital victories along the way and embarrassed a failing Government.

“We fought for the SAGE minutes to be published and the Government caved in, releasing huge batches of information. The revelations gave people living under lockdown rightful access to information which had been behind closed doors but was key in stripping away their freedoms.

“The reluctantly released SAGE minutes highlighted that scientists accept the virus does not pose a threat to children and that closing schools has minimal impact on the spread, again exposing the mockery of the Government’s position.

“Our pressure also exposed the trick of words the Government used to close schools for millions of children for months on end.

“The judge held in his judgment that there is “no legal requirement on any school in England to close”. “Yet millions of pupils  – the vast majority of them – have had no proper access to education since March and still don’t.  The Court has refused to let our challenge to this sorry state of affairs proceed.

“This was all against a backdrop of the Government trying to delay our case as much as possible.

“But more than anything, this legal action has given a voice to those who have had freedoms stripped away with no democratic process.

“I wanted to launch the legal action because it was terrifyingly obvious the Government needed to be challenged.Parliament has been a bystander throughout.   Ministers have repeatedly signed legislation into law without scrutiny, debate or votes by MPs – until weeks after the event.

“This legal campaign is not only mine but that of the 6,500 people who donated more than £200,000 to crowdfund the action.

“Many of those supporters have shared the devastating personal effect lockdown had and will continue to have on their lives. I thank each and everyone one of them for stepping up and joining the fight.

“Billions have been wiped off a previously healthy economy and millions of people are now out of work because of the lockdown. We also face a cancer, NHS waiting list and mental health crisis as a result of it.

“It is for all these reasons and dozens more that lockdown simply cannot be allowed to happen again.

“That is why we will continue this fight beyond the confines of the court room.

“We started the Keep Britain Free movement to protect the basic freedoms of everyone living in the UK.

“The group has already become the fastest growing pressure group in the UK, with thousands joining together to fight creeping totalitarianism.

“This first battle may have been lost, but the war has only just started.”