A top QC has told the Parliament’s human rights committee that “100% of prosecutions under the Coronavirus Act, to date have been wrong.”
In March last year the government introduced legislation which gave police across the UK powers to detain “potentially infectous” peope for screening and assesment with “reasonable force” if required.
Cops were also provided with other powers to break up gatherings and fine those who are breaching restriction of movement, under the Health Protection Regulations.
All 246 prosecutions that were launched under the Coronavirus Act have now been deemed “unlawful.”
Many people who put through the horrendous ordeal of being arrested, processed then having to attend court with some ending with a criminal conviction or others being stopped have all been reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Lawyers, journalists and campaigners have constantly been highlighting a long line of errors being constantly made.
In January the CPS found 14 people who were accused of breaching the Act were all wrongfully charged, according to the CPS website.
There is now a “very strong case” for the law to be repealed, said Kirsty Brimelow QC, who is a human rights barrister with Doughty Street Chambers.
Since the Coronavirus Act came into force almost 70,000 fines for breaching the law have been handed out. The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) data shows that between 27 March, 2020 and 14 February a total of 68,952 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were given, with 63,201 in England and 5,751 in Wales.
Brimelow QC told Parliament’s human rights committee that “100% of prosecutions under the Coronavirus Act, to date have been wrong.
“That shows to me that there is a very strong case to repeal that section that continually is being used wrongfully and unlawfully against members of the public.
“I think the statistics aren’t usual within a criminal justice context, it’s not usual at all to repeatedly see the law being unlawfully applied.
“What it does demonstrate is that the safeguards are not working within the criminal justice system, and it also demonstrates that where there are no safeguards, which applies where fixed penalty notices are applied, where there is no lawyer overseeing them, that it’s highly likely there are thousands of those [fines] that have been unlawfully issued.”
Gregor McGill, CPS Director of Legal Services, said in response, “We remain committed to reviewing all of these cases for as long as necessary to ensure the right people are charged with the right offences.”