Monday, 28 February 2022 — Off Guardian
Legislation aims to make “digital courtroom” a permanent fixture of UK justice.
Some of the UK’s “temporary” measures intended to help “deal with the pandemic” are going to be added to future legislation and made permament laws by the spring of this year.
Of course, the truth is that many of the “temporary” Covid measures were already permanent.
As we detailed in fact check in the spring of 2020, although defenders claimed the Coronavirus Act was “temporary” and “only for two years”, this was completely untrue.
To quote ourselves…
Section 89 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 details just how many sections and sub-sections are not subject to the expiry clause. As well as all the “conditions” which, if met, would enable Ministers to waive the expiry clause on certain other sections and regulations.
The list is hugely long: Sections 1, 2, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 19(11), 21(7), 59-70, 72-74, 75(1) and 76. As well as parts of Schedules 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 through 13.
These non-temporary measures included section 11, which guarantees legal indemnity for any public sector employee if they kill or injure a patient whilst attempting to treat Covid.
In total, over a quarter of the “temporary measures” were never actually temporary. And now, as Covid segues into war, the government are seeking to add a few more clauses to the non-temporary list.
It’s all detailed in the government’s “Living with Covid” planning document, released last week.
Among the double-think, back-pedalling and revisionism the document claims that the sections 30, 53, 54 and 55 of the Coronoavirus Act have “enabled revolutions in the delivery of public services” and should be made permanent.
They propose a sixth month extension now, while the sections are copied-and-pasted into legislation expected to pass later this year.
Section 30 gave coroners the right to have an inquest without a jury when Covid19 was a suspected cause of death, why they want this to be permanent I can’t see as yet. Except maybe to further erode the ideas behind the Jury system they’ve been attempting to undermine throughout the “pandemic”. Of course, it could als be amended to include any other disease they wish.
That is expected to be passed into law as part of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill.
Sections 53-55, though, empowered the justice system to hold trials over the internet, via audio or video link. Making this permanent has massive implications for human rights moving forward, not to mention leaving the system wide open for abuse and fakery (pre-recordings, deep fakes or other digital manipulation).
These will be added to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
It was a terrible precedent to set, and now its here forever. We did warn you it wouldn’t be “just two years”.