Former judges and some MPs are concerned over the Matt Hancock’s announcement on Tuesday that people could be handed a 10-year prison sentence.
The Health Secretary told the Commons yesterday that people who travel from a “red-list” country and are caught lying on their travel documents will face stiff penalties.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defended that those who lie about their travel at the UK border should be handed a prison sentence of up to 10-years and said it is “appropriate.”
Shapps told Sky News, “What we’re dealing with now are the variants and, with variants, we cannot risk it in these final stages where we’ve got the vaccine rolled out that we might end up with a difficulty from variations, although we think so far that we’ll be able to take care of them through the vaccines.
“And, because of that, we think… things like prison sentences for lying about being in one of those red list countries are appropriate.”
The former attorney general Dominic Grieve said the 10-year prison sentence is “entirely disproportionate.”
Former Supreme Court judge Lord Jonathan Sumption wrote in the Daily Telegraph, “Ten years is the maximum sentence for threats to kill, non-fatal poisoning or indecent assault.
“Does Mr Hancock really think that non-disclosure of a visit to Portugal is worse than the large number of violent firearms offences or sexual offences involving minors, for which the maximum is seven years?”
Shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News that he is “very concerned” that the government are introducing long prison sentences.
However, he does back the need for “significant penalties” for those who blatantly lie on their passenger locator forms, as this is “very serious.”
He told Sky News, “Crucially, what we can’t do is allow an announcement of an eye-catching figure on a prison sentence to detract or distract away from what is actually required here, which is that comprehensive hotel quarantine system that needs to be introduced.”