You schoot ze lockdown violator on ze right, Klaus, I schoot ze vun on ze left


Never before has UK government bias in favour of the establishment been clearer, than in the recent cases of Neil Ferguson and Nigel Farage.

Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, having supplied the dubious (and unprofessional) “evidence” that was used to “justify” the “no non-essential travel” lockdown in the first place, will not be prosecuted for inviting a woman from across London to his home while he was still supposed to be in 14-day quarantine.

Yet Nigel Farage, who has never been in quarantine, gets lectured by police for going to Dover to investigate the possibility that the UK “border force” is letting people in to the UK who should not be. At a time when, if even one of them has the virus, efforts to contain the epidemic will be seriously compromised.

One law for the establishment, one for the plebs and the “bad boys” like Nigel Farage, no?

On a lighter note, yesterday my camera took me on a walking tour of my local area, to record the lockdown experience. I won’t bother to upload all the photos here, just give you the link: http://www.honestcommonsense.co.uk/2020/05/still-locked-down.html.

24 comments

  • kingscountyexile

    The word you’re looking for is Ausgangssperrenbrecher. If that is still too short, I can make it longer. And add more consonants 🤪

  • Danke, kingscountyexile. But I have now developed a cough from trying to pronounce the word you gave me. Please stay home, protect the NHS and give NHS workers a dose of clap at 8pm every Thursday night.

    • kingscountyexile

      Jawohl! We love a good Reichsparteitag.

      • kingscountyexile

        I should probably add that all my interactions with my surgery etc. have ranged from good to outstanding. I just find this mindless cheerleading downright creepy.

  • “During the emergency period, no person may leave or be outside of the place where they are living without reasonable excuse” (Regulation 6)

    “During the emergency period, no person may participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people” (Regulation 7)

    Prof Ferguson didn’t commit either offence. The gathering took place in his home, not in a public place, and there were only two of them present.

    His visitor has the Regulation 6 defence to that she left and was outside her home for the reasonable excuse that she had an appointment to attend, for a gathering that was permitted by Regulation 7.

    They can both tell the police to “gather” off.

    • So, which regulation did Nigel Farage violate? And who has the right to say what is a “reasonable” excuse?

    • Both did commit offences.

      The woman breached Regulation 6(1) of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. She did not have a “reasonable excuse” as defined in Regulation 6(2).

      Regulation 9(1) makes clear this is an offence.

      Professor Ferguson procured commission of the offence, thus he can be prosecuted under section 44 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, or he can be prosecuted for encouraging or assisting the offence under sections 44, 45 and/or 46 of the Serious Crimes Act 2007. Section 49(1) of the 2007 Act makes clear that inchoate offences sections 44 to 46 apply even if the relevant criminal act encouraged was committed.

      • Regulation 6(2) doesn’t “define” reasonable excuse. It provides a non-exhaustive list of excuses that are examples of reasonable excuses, without ruling out other excuses from being reasonable too. Otherwise, I assume that what you said in reply to me was correct.

        • I don’t agree that the list in Regulation 6(2) s “non-exhaustive”, rather I believe the list should be read ejusdem generis. I realise that could be seen as lawyerly pedantry, and I know that in layman’s policy guidance (including, it seems, guidance issued by the College of Policing), it does state that the list is non-exhaustive, and it’s probably the case that your average lay Magistrate and Justices’ Clerk, and even a District Judge, would treat it as such, but I don’t believe that’s technically strictly right.

          In other words, you can’t just come up with an excuse of your own and argue for its reasonability. On the other hand, since the list is ejusdem generis, there’s room for flexibility. What I don’t accept is that a sexual liaison with an unacknowledged partner can be seen as a reasonable excuse within the ‘generis’ in Regulation 6(2), given the policy background to the Regulations and their exigent justification. I think it turns on the facts.
          Had this sexual partner been in a relationship with him that had a more open and formal footing, in which he was also effectively separated from his wife (or whatever), that potentially would have been different.

          Can I just add that I totally oppose these Regulations, the lockdown and the whole official approach to this. I think it is quite appalling and my insistence on a correct interpretation of the Regulations should not be taken to imply approval of the Regulations. But there it is.

          • I think you have recognised that the verdict on her prosecution, in which there would be no dispute as to the basic facts, would be something of a Shrodinger’s cat until the “your average lay Magistrate and Justices’ Clerk, and even a District Judge” announced it, forcing her guilt or innocence into one of two eigenstates so-to-speak. I have argued for one outcome being more likely, and you for the other.

            In his case, there would be no offence directly under the regulations, but at most a conviction for “encouraging or assisting” her alleged offence.

            I also oppose the regulations.

            It is a side-effect of criminalising what so many people are going to do anyway that prosecuting every potential offence would be impractical (whenever this happens), that the police have the discretion to “let off” those they regard as goodies with a blind eye or a warning, whilst thinking something up in order to “get” those they regard as baddies.

            If I need to post a letter, I’m going to walk to my local pillar box, even though that isn’t a reasonable excuse listed under Regulation 6(2). If a signed-for package arrives when I am out or asleep, I fully expect the Royal Mail to pop a red card through my letterbox as usual, committing the offence (you would have it) of “encouraging” me to collect it from the sorting office, regardless of the omission of that from Regulation 6(2).

            • John,

              I don’t regard this as a web of shot silk. To me, the law is clear and Neil Ferguson and this woman broke it. But yes, as a practical matter, it is difficult to predict these things because lawyers and judges at first instance level will sometimes get the law wrong in cases like this (and in fairness, who can blame them?).

              I agree, actually, that the police should have discretion to let ‘good people’ off, especially when it comes to minor infractions of technical statutes, such as in this case, but the problem is that Professor Ferguson and his ilk keep telling us how imperative it is that this infringement of our liberties should be maintained and I am struggling to see any justification for allowing him the normal privileges that would customarily be extended to decent folk.

              By the way, posting a letter comes under the exception in Regulation 6(2)(b). Regulation 6(2) is ejusdem generis, not non-exhaustive.

      • Tom, thank you, and though I’m not legally trained, having read the Regulations 6 and 9 I do support your interpretation on Ferguson and Staats rather than John Allman’s. That begs the question, though, whether or not the regulations are morally right.

        Moreover, it all comes down to what falls through the gaps. 6(2) says “a reasonable excuse includes the need…” Implying, to me at least, that there are other excuses which could be considered as “reasonable.” Yet 9(1)(b) specifically does not admit this possibility for “offences” under regulation 6. Opening up the possibility of sauce for the goose (Ferguson) being unequal to sauce for the gander (Farage). So, my question still stands: “One law for the establishment, one for the plebs and the “bad boys” like Nigel Farage, no?” Our American cousins 200+ years ago already knew of this problem, and that’s why they drafted their Ninth Amendment.

        I noticed you didn’t opine on Farage’s case. His own defence seems to be “to travel for the purposes of work.” That seems to come down to the definition of what is “work.” There are lots of problems with any such definition. A journalist investigating a new story? A job applicant going to an interview? Boris Johnson decamping to Chequers?

        • Oops, I see my comment crossed with yours and John Allman’s.

        • Neil,

          As explained above, the list in Regulation 6(2) is ejusdem generis rather than non-exhaustive, meaning that you can’t just invent an excuse and argue for its reasonability, instead one must argue that the excuse falls within the generality of the list as it stands. (Though note: I state this with the important practical caveat that many judges, magistrates and legal professionals may have the same understanding as ordinary people and may misapply the law and give the exceptions more liberality than is warranted).

          In the case of Farage, he is not a NUJ-accredited journalist or public official, but he holds a political position as leader of the Brexit Party and it would seem reasonable to me that his activities fall under the generality of Regulation 6(2)(f), which should allow him to undertake political, journalistic and scrutiny-type activities. I really couldn’t see him being actually prosecuted. Yes, the police may issue threats, but somebody would have to sit down and decide to pursue him with Regulation 6(2)(f) in mind and against a background of a significant minority in the country backing him.

          In the case of Neil Ferguson, I believe both he and the woman concerned did break the law. Normally I would express the hope and wish that they are not prosecuted, but since it’s them, I regret that they are not being prosecuted to the full extent of the law. You may think me churlish, but since when has this been a fair fight?

          • I think the professor was being hypocritical and that he was therefore right to resign. But in his position, I’d plead not guilty, arguing as I did at first, and throwing into the mix the HRA and Article 8(2) proportionality.

            Are you in a position to explain to me authoritatively the implications that the regulations omit to specify what penalties a convicted person can be sentenced to for an offence against the regulations, given that the regulations only mention “a fine”, with no details at all as to how big a fine that might be? I haven’t noticed that before in legislation, although I have seen express references to “an unlimited fine”.

            • If it’s a breach of the 2020 Regulations, then Regulation 10 allows ‘authorised persons’ (defined in Regulation 10(11)(a) – normally police officers and PCSOs) to issue fixed penalty notices. These will be £60.00 on the first fixed penalty notice (Regulation 10(6)) and £120.00 on the second such notice (Regulation 10(7)(b)). There is also a £30.00 discount if the penalty is paid within 14 days (Regulation 10(7)(a)).

              You can also be prosecuted, either instead of a fixed penalty notice or (more usually) on non-payment of a fixed penalty notice. If this happens, then you will be summonsed and the Magistrates or District Judge will hear the case. The Regulations do not specify a level on the standard scale to apply for these fines, which means section 85(1) of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 applies and you can, in principle, be fined anything, though if you believe the fine to be excessive, you may be able to appeal it to the Crown Court under section 108 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act.

              • Read literally, section 85(1) appears not to apply to these new offences, created by the 2020 regulations, were not offences at all, punishable in any way, on the commencement day of the 2012 Act, the only offences to which s85(1) applies (if they are “relevant” that is, whatever that means).

                • John,

                  Sorry, I meant section 85(2).

                  • S85(2) reads “the power may be exercised on or after that day to create an offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine of any amount”, but is that how the pre-existing power was exercised on 26th March, if the regulations don’t actually use the words “a fine of any amount” (which they don’t)?

          • Thank you, Tom and John, and I think we’re all on the same page. Ferguson may or may not be legally guilty, but has certainly committed what I would call out as a serious ethical offence – failing to follow rules which he himself has sought to impose on others. Farage is not guilty of anything, and indeed deserves to be commended for exposing conduct by UK officials which may well be against the law. Though I would criticize him for failing (at least publicly) to follow up on the really important question – what was the health status of the people brought in to Dover?

            • Do they have a procedure in place for quarantining and testing? I assume all immigration entry, including tourism, has been barred during lockdown, all visas have been deferred or voided, and all non-permanent residents requested to leave? If not, why not? I think those are among the pertinent questions.

              I don’t believe the virus is as dangerous as they claim in the first place, but let us suppose I am wrong and the alarmism is well-placed, then how can the government defend what has been going on at the border? It’s one thing to allow British citizens to return, sick or not, it’s quite another to intentionally allow people to enter the country who have no right to be here – assuming of course, that is what is actually happening.

              Am I the only one who is left with a lingering suspicion that the lockdown is punishment for Brexit?

              • I’m not sure the lockdown had anything to do with Brexit, Tom. Unless Johnson is even more duplicitous than your average politician, of course.

                The way I read it, Johnson believed Ferguson, and didn’t ask for a second opinion. Trump, prompted by Johnson, seems to have believed Ferguson too; instead of leaving it to the individual states, as he could (and, in my opinion, should) have done. It’s local measures that make the difference in an epidemic (as witness, the Austrians’ shutdown of Ischgl), not national ones.

                The timing of the visits by Staats to Ferguson on 30th March and 8th April is interesting. 30th March was not long after Johnson had been diagnosed positive for COVID. You can imagine how Ferguson (who, if I remember rightly, had symptoms and went into self-isolation on March 17th, the day after the first level lockdown was announced) would have felt: “Hell, did I pass the virus on to him?” He would have needed all the emotional support he could get. The 8th April date is even more suggestive; by which time, Johnson was in intensive care. All speculation, of course. But you could certainly see this sequence of events as the starting point of a detective novel. Oh, and Ferguson’s report came out on Friday 13th… that may or may not be significant to the plot.

  • I don’t believe Nigel Farage is anything other than part of the Establishment (to the extent that term can be defined).

    Aside from that, allowing people into your country to settle here without any effective bar or restriction is lunacy. It’s lunacy whether there is a pandemic or not. If the least of what is said about this pandemic is true, then the government has been negligent. They allowed sports events to go ahead in which fans travelled here from southern Europe and no doubt brought the infection with them. Those events could have been held without the foreign fans.

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