A businessman going through the courts to argue the UK's lockdown was unlawful has been refused permission for judicial review.
Simon Dolan, a Monaco-based owner of UK businesses, brought legal proceedings after more than 6,500 people donated £200,000 in total to crowdfund the action.
He argued in court there was no democratic process for imposing the lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak in March. Restrictions have slowly been eased in recent weeks, with some pupils allowed to return to school, pubs and restaurants allowed to reopen and larger groups able to meet together.
Following a hearing last week, The Honourable Mr Justice Lewis said in Dolan & Ors v Secretary of State for Health And Social Care & Anor the regulations imposed by government sought to achieve a legitimate aim, namely to reduce the incidence and spread of the virus. Restrictions were made in accordance with law they were included in regulations made under power conferred by an act of parliament.
He added that in the unique circumstances faced by ministers this year, there was ‘no realistic prospect’ of a court deciding that restrictions were a disproportionate interference with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The judge said: ‘The Secretary of State had the legal power to make the regulations. In making and maintaining the regulations, he has not fettered his discretion. He has had regard to relevant considerations. He has not acted irrationally. He has not acted disproportionately.’
Speaking after the judgment was published, Dolan said the decision was ‘incredibly disappointing’ for himself and the thousands of others who helped fund it.
He added: ‘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.’
He said his legal team was analysing the full judgment with a view to making an appeal. The judgment made no mention of costs.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.