Lockdown measures infringe human rights, says Stroud campaigner

A POLITICAL activist from Stroud who was fined for taking part in a protest against the coronavirus lockdown in London said she is concerned about civil liberties and basic freedoms being taken away.

Debbie Hicks was among those issued with an on-the-spot fine of £100 by Metropolitan Police officers for deliberately breaking social distancing guidelines at one of the largest gatherings, in Hyde Park on June 10.

“I was issued with the fine for contravening the Coronavirus Act 2020,” she said. “This comes under the 1984 Public Health Act, which has been amended to deal with the pandemic.

“All our basic freedoms, summarised in the Human Rights Act, have been frozen by this amendment, such as the freedom of speech, the freedom of movement, freedom of family life, freedom of health care, and the freedom to assemble. They have been frozen until March 2022. But the government has admitted in a response to businessman Simon Dolan’s request for a judicial review about this that the lockdown was just guidelines and not law.”

Debbie believes the on-the-spot fine of £100 she was given was unjustified and has refused to pay. She wanted to challenge the issuing of the fine in court, believing this would provide an opportunity to register and highlight her concerns in a legal setting.

But after refusing to pay, she was given a single justice procedure notice instead.

“Single justice procedure notice hearings take place ‘behind closed doors’ and the court will write to you with the result of the hearing,” she said. “This means that a magistrate can make a decision about my case without it going to court, and without my being able to call on legal representation. But that’s the wrong way round. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

She added: “I feel that the risk to us all of losing democracy and all our rights for a virus with an 0.3 per cent mortality rate is not proportionate. I will challenge the outcome of the single justice order as this is unlawful and a contravention of part 4 of the Human Rights Act.

“And I will be continuing to speak out and act against the developing tyranny because history tells us what happens if we don’t stand up and fight when our basic rights are removed. They’re never handed back without a huge fight.”

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