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Wealthy businessman Simon Dolan has launched a legal bid against the Prime Minister’s latest “draconian” measures to fight the invisible killer disease, claiming they have been “sneaked in” using a legal loophole. Issuing a rallying cry, he said businesses were being “driven into the ground and lives are being ruined”. Mr Dolan, whose Jota Aviation company has been delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS, has joined forces with wedding venue operator Cripps Barn Group Ltd to seek an injunction, which would immediately halt the Government’s latest lockdown laws.
The legal bid comes after Mr Johnson urged members of the public to adhere to the new rules including pub and restaurant curfews of 10pm, a “rule of six” limit on social gatherings, and mandatory face mask wearing.
Mr Johnson set out the need for “drastic action” to tackle the “fast growth” of coronavirus, asking people to work from home if possible and to stop non-essential travel.
But today, Mr Dolan and Cripps Barn Group Ltd served legal papers on the Government, seeking urgent relief from the Court to quash the new restrictions and declare them illegal.
In their ‘Letter Before Action’, they are also seeking permission to take the measures to judicial review.
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They say the contradictory and confusing laws are destroying the hospitality industry and that the measures are disproportionate to the risk to public health from COVID-19.
They claim the Government misused legislation to bring in the new regulations without proper scrutiny by parliament.
The Government introduced the new measures through the Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) Act 1984 by certifying the legislation as ‘urgent’.
This meant ministers were allowed to make the laws effective immediately without prior approval in parliament.
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If the injunction is granted and a public official attempts to impose the lockdown laws, they could be in contempt of court which is ultimately punishable by imprisonment.
Mr Dolan, who owns ten UK businesses and employs 600 people, said: “With 16million people now under draconian local restrictions, and everyone facing harsh fines for contravening rules they can’t even understand, the tide is turning. More and more people believe, like us, that the Government cannot be allowed to do what it likes with no thought to the consequences of its actions.
“The new legislation has been sneaked in using a legal loophole without scrutiny from parliament. That is why the country is in a total mess and a state of confusion. Businesses are being driven into the ground and lives are being ruined. The Prime Minister himself had to apologise for getting confused by his own laws and his own father did not know to wear a mask.
“I have long argued that all the lockdown measures have been brought in illegally and are completely disproportionate to the risk from COVID-19. We have evidence which backs this up and challenges the spurious scenario presented by Professor Whitty when he claimed that there could be 50,000 coronavirus cases per day by next month.
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“Backbench MPs, led by Sir Graham Brady, made some noise about being denied a voice. But they rolled over like poodles as soon as their tummies were tickled with the promise they will be given a vote ‘when possible.’
“The new measures threaten to destroy the hospitality industry. We know there are dismayed, worried and angry people in the hospitality industry and we need more people from the sector to come forward and support this legal case.
“They can make their voices heard. Anyone who wants to support it financially can donate to the CrowdJustice appeal
“The lockdown measures are illegal, they do not work and they must be scrapped.”
Since May, Mr Dolan has attempted to bring the Government to judicial review over the original lockdown measures and quarantine laws.
That case is under appeal and a fundraiser to go towards legal fees has now raised more than £300,000.
Mark Henriques, Managing Director of Cripps & Co, said the latest lockdown restrictions were “absurd and contradictory”.
He revealed by March, the weddings of around 500,000 brides and grooms will have been “shattered”.
Mr Henriques added: “The latest round of lockdown restrictions, introduced through the back door without any Parliamentary scrutiny, are absurd and contradictory. They are devastating to the hospitality industry and all its support businesses. We are asking the courts to halt the new restrictions at least until they have been properly debated.
“It is plainly ridiculous that spacious wedding venues, including some that seat 1,500 people, have to restrict themselves to 15 people. It’s all based on the Government view that weddings are ‘super-spreader’ events.
“By next March the wedding dreams of around 500,000 brides and grooms will have been shattered. The Government’s thoughtless assumption is that wedding guests will be drunkenly hugging and kissing everyone in the room as though COVID didn’t exist.
“In the real world, the Government must see that most people have adapted their behaviour and, particularly around the vulnerable, are acting with great restraint. A wedding meal for 100 people, with guests spaced as in restaurants, with no mingling or dancing, with modest consumption of alcohol, poses a very small risk indeed. Wedding events can be closely supervised by venue staff and family members who would be determined to keep things safe. Weddings pose no more risk than many other permitted activities.
“We ask the Government to drop this obsession with weddings and wake up to the fact they are needlessly ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of wedding couples, business owners, staff and suppliers.”
The Claimants are represented by Michael Gardner of law firm Wedlake Bell LLP and barrister Francis Hoar of Field Court Chambers.
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