Debbie Hicks, the anti-lockdown protestor who was arrested after filming an apparently empty ward in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital at the end of last year, is facing four separate prosecutions in Magistrates’ Court – mainly for participating in anti-lockdown protests – and she needs to raise more funds to pay for her legal defence. The first case is due to be heard on November 16th and all four will be heard this winter. She has set up a CrowdJusice fundraiser that you can contribute to here.
Debbie’s solicitor plans to move on to the High Court if she loses in the Magistrates’ Court, or if the Magistrates’ Court says it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to consider her cases. That could be expensive, but the cause at stake could not be more important. Here is an extract from a note her solicitor sent to me:
These really are important cases in respect of Freedom of speech and Freedom to protest as:
- Success at the High Court will set a precedent that protest is not, and never has been, completely illegal during the pandemic – even under lockdown.
- Debbie suspects that the prosecution’s ultimate aim is to obtain a criminal behaviour order against her thereby chillingly curbing her ability to protest in the future.
- There are still a large number of other citizens across the country who are being ‘unlawfully’ prosecuted or have been convicted – a successful outcome at the High Court will lead to a landslide of other cases crumbling and open avenues of appeal to others already convicted.
- While the Crown Prosecution Service may try and quietly drop the odd case here and there after defence representations and arguments are filed, this will only occur when a prosecution lawyer reviews the case reasonably and objectively and properly analyses the law which is confusing and opaque – and, as Debbie has found, this is not easy to achieve. Success at the High Court will mean the CPS will have to blanket review all such cases and, with a legal precedent set, this will force the CPS to discontinue all remaining prosecutions.
- Many ordinary citizens without a previous blemish on their record will currently have criminal records because they’ve been convicted of these types of offences. Success in the High Court could lead to an avalanche of appeals and convictions being overturned.
- Success at the High Court will add clarity to the law that protesters have a reasonable excuse to gather and are not therefore committing an offence and cannot be directed to disperse or leave by the police.
- While the prohibition of protests has now been dropped, legislation can always be amended again in the future. Who knows if further lockdowns are on the horizon. We only have to look to Australia as an example of a government completely abusing its powers against its own citizens. Success at the High Court in Debbie’s case will make it harder for our Government to suspend the right to protest again.
Once again, if you’d like to make a contribution to Debbie’s fundraiser, you can find it here.