A leading barrister has come forward to say any ‘parties’ at No. 10 “almost certainly did not break the law.”

Writing in the Spectator, Steven Barrett a leading barrister at Radcliffe Chambers who read law at Oxford and taught law at Cambridge wrote:

“During the course of the pandemic, the Covid laws have changed regularly. Yet one thing has stayed largely consistent: the rules have always treated people and places differently. Despite what some might claim, there’s nothing sinister in this.

“And it’s for this reason that the ‘cheese and wine’ gathering – which the PM has said did not take place – probably isn’t a matter for the police. During the course of the pandemic, the Covid laws have changed regularly.

“The starting point in the Covid rules should be section 73 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. This part of the Act states that the Covid regulations, at all times, never applied to Crown Land (which includes No. 10). This only changed if No. 10 made a written agreement to be voluntarily bound – and no one thinks they did. So the regulations almost certainly never applied to No. 10 anyway.”

According to Barrister Barrett the reason being; in the eighties “lawmakers decided that it would be better to allow the government to function during any future national pandemic without having to worry about being caught up in quarantine regulations. The thinking was that by making the government effectively exempt in law, the government could continue to function.”

Mr Barrett adds in addition to the 1984 Act, there were also specific regulations that applied at the time of the alleged ‘cheese and wine gate’: the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020.

The barrister says according to these rules, gatherings were allowed in all public buildings, or parts of them ‘operated by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body.’

Mr Barrett concluded:

“So it seems likely that whatever happened in Downing Street was legal. Of course, this won’t placate Boris Johnson’s critics – nor will it do much to dent the attacks on the PM. But these people can rest assured that the law was not broken. 

“In our legal system, people are innocent until proven guilty. People do not get to just say that crimes occurred and then demand that someone prove themselves innocent. Criminal lawyers will grandiosely call this ‘the golden thread’ that runs through their area of law. It applies to people they don’t like as much as those they do. And it should apply in this case.

“Far worse than this though is that another greater wrong has occurred. The public have been mistakenly told that some people are above the law. No one is above the law. That is what the rule of law means. If public confidence in that is undermined then that is a very serious issue. People need to stop playing politics with the law.”

Sue Gray, a senior official, has been charged with investigating claims that lockdown-busting parties took place in Downing Street. According to the Cabinet Office, the “primary purpose” of Ms Gray’s inquiry is to “establish swiftly a general understanding of the nature of the gatherings, including attendance, the setting and the purpose, with reference to adherence to the guidance in place at the time”. She is expected to report her findings this week.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Surely the sources of these reports will be required to give statements to the police otherwise it is just hearsay which is not admissible in court. This person or people have surely committed offences under the Official Secrets Act including invasion of privacy for taking peoples photographs without their consent and probably revealing security details at the same time. At the very least whoever is behind this nonsense should be instantly dismissed and lose their pension and any titles they may have been awarded. Could this even be classed as Treason? I hope so and civil servants should be offered new contracts to reflect the seriousness of leaking government information to the media. Any that don’t want to sign the new contract will of course be free to pursue their career in the private sector, as they will no longer be fit to work in the public sector. This also leaves the perpetrators open to the charge of committing misconduct in a public office. I sincerely hope the government use the full might of the law without mercy, because they have tried very hard to change the leadership of the United Kingdom without a single vote being cast! The People voted for Boris Johnson, not the Conservative Party, and every single MP who was victorious at the last General Election owes their livelihood to the Prime Minister. My wife, like many many people in the North of England, voted Conservative for the first time in her life because of Boris Johnson! He may be a tad eccentric but that is a British trait that we love. The man has more charisma than any other politician in the UK and, to quote Oliver Cromwell, we love him warts and all!

  2. As the law states, The Government Has To Function in the way they choose. No disrespect was meant by anyone at the Downing St meetings, these people work hard to keep the country functioning and do it on Crown Land..No laws therefore, were broken..

  3. It’s not about breaking laws. It’s about integrity and respect.
    I am deeply disappointed and disgusted. Especially the story of how Downing Street partied while our Queen grieved.
    Boris can learn a lot from Her Majesty.

  4. Labour PCC?? in London (well Khan is the equivalent) so Boris gets fined.
    Labour PCC in Durham so Starmer doesn’t.
    Maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist or spot on, you decide

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