Talks on human rights during the pandemic and children’s rights v state interests proved so popular people to had to be turned away for lack of room, a senior advocate has told Gef.
Ian Kermode joined Victoria Hodgson in holding a presentation at the Villa Marina’s Promenade Suite last week which lacked at human rights and civil liberties during the pandemic.
Miss Hodgson’s speech was called “Child Rights v State Interests – finding the right balance” and you can watch it in full here.
This was followed by Kermode’s speech “Human Rights and Civil Wrongs During the Pandemic”. The advocate, who has shared his speech with us, said he is not anti-vaccine or a Covid-denier, but rather he wants people to be able to have a choice over whether or not they take it.
Mr Kermode said his speech last week was about ‘putting the case that lockdown restrictions may not have been and may not now be necessary or proportionate and it is about putting the case that compulsory Covid vaccination may not be lawful and in fact crosses a red line of coercion’.
In his speech, which you can watch or read below, Mr Kermode began by outlining Magna Carta, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and how it was previously applied to the Isle of Man in the case of Tyrer v UK when a 15-year-old juvenile was bricked for an offence of ABH.
Mr Kermode went on to outline how the European Convention on Human Rights was created in response to numerous historical breaches of civil liberties including internment during the First World War, the Russian Gulags and Spanish Civil War. He did also reference Nazi Germany, its treatment of Jewish people, communists, homosexuals and ethnic minority, as well as the horrific events of the holocaust.
Importantly Mr Kermode did not draw a direct comparison between Nazi Germany and the pandemic, he used it to outline why the European Convention on Human Rights exists.
Returning to the modern day, he then moved on to outline the lockdown restrictions in the UK and how the Isle of Man followed suit.
He said: ‘A State of Emergency was proclaimed on the Isle of Man by the Lieutenant Governor on March 16 2020 and very soon after a number of Regulations were introduced under the Emergency Powers Act 1936.
‘For example, the now notorious Prohibition on Movement Regulations and the Prohibition on Gatherings Regulations combined to prevent residents from leaving home except for only very, very limited reasons.
The Isle of Man and the UK had essentially identical regulations save that in the UK breach of Regulations was only punishable by a Fixed Penalty Notice (on the spot fine of approximately £100.00) whereas in the Isle of Man breach was punishable by a fine of up to £10,000.00 or 3 month’s jail.
‘In the Isle of Man 215 people were arrested and 71 persons received custodial sentences for doing ordinary everyday activities such as staying overnight at a girlfriend’s house. The typical jail term being 28 days, which some of our off-island viewers may find alarming.’
Mr Kermode said that these ‘draconian Regulations undoubtedly represented the most severe restrictions on personal freedom in the modern history of the United Kingdom and Isle of Man’. And, he said, a number of articles of the ECHR were ‘obviously engaged’.
He added: ‘These restrictions caused untold misery, with many elderly grandparents left to die alone, cruelly denied family and friends to be with them to hold their hand in their final moments. I would go as far as saying that our common humanity has been brutalised.’
The articles he said were particularly engaged were 11, the right to peaceful assembly and 13, the right to retune to ones own country. Both of these were obviously stopped during the pandemic, including when the island controversially pulled up the drawbridge to its own citizens.
During this, particularly when Tynwald sat virtually, Mr Kermode said: ‘Far reaching Regulations were passed with parliament seemingly paralysed by fear, reduced to no more than a rubber stamp.’
‘A similar situation has recently arisen in the Australian State of New South Wales where the Premier Mr Andrews is currently seeking to introduce a Public Health Bill which would, according to 60 QC’s who signed an Open letter opposing the Bill, leave the government ruling the State of Victoria by decree. The real concern being that proper parliamentary oversight and the usual checks and balances on executive power would not be applied to government decisions.
‘Equally, in relation to Policing in the UK and the Isle of Man there were many examples of questionable proportionality. For example, in Derbyshire the Police used a flying drone to track a couple walking in the hills.’
The advocate continued in his speech to compare the benefits of lockdown with the negatives. He said: ‘If we were to create a balance sheet of the good and bad effects of lockdown, what would it include and what would be the bottom line? ‘If say in the left hand column we were to put the good that has been done, that would include supposedly all the deaths that have been avoided and hospitalisations. But obviously this is pure speculation with different scientific mathematical modelling producing wildly different results.’
Against this, Mr Kermode lists cancer screenings being cancelled, rent arrears as a result of people being out of work, public finances being decimated by the pandemic, the impact on mental health and a drop in foreign aid to some of the world’s poorest countries.
He also raised the issue of Sweden. As a country it did impose a full lockdown, schools, pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes remained open with the government issuing advice and people told to take personal responsibility. Sweden ended up with a lower death rate (1.2%) than the UK (1.51%).
Mr Kermode added: Having considered alternative scientific opinion on Covid and the example of Sweden and briefly looked at calamitous consequences of lockdown, there is a reasoned argument that harsh restrictions were unnecessary and disproportionate.’
The advocate went on to talk about vaccines and the ‘coercion’ used by having adverts featuring celebrities, the England manager Gareth Southgate and most recently Martin Kemp playing Santa.
Mr Kermode, who himself is unvaccinated, said there are ‘two categories of unvaccinated persons’.
He said: ‘Firstly, there are those who cannot be vaccinated. This is a group who, even if they wanted to, have particular medical conditions such as allergies or pregnancy which may preclude vaccination in individual circumstances.
‘The second, more elusive, group comprises of those who have consciously decided not to be vaccinated. I think it is important to articulate some of those reasons, to finally give some public airtime and vocalise the other side of the debate about Covid vaccines.’
He outlines some of the concerns around the vaccines including safety, the history of drugs such as Thalidomide, cultural reasons, particularly those stemming from historical abuses of former colonial countries. Other issues Mr Kemode highlighted include a lack of clarity over the ingredients of the vaccines, the use of animal testing and the use of some vaccines of cell clones ‘ taken from the kidney of a legally aborted human female foetus’, as well as people who see the response to Covid as an ‘overreaction’.
Mr Kermode’s speech, which you can watch or read in full below, goes on to outline the potential issue of compulsory vaccines, equality, the human right to choose what medical treatment you choose to take or not to and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He concluded by saying: ‘The authorities can stop me from eating at restaurants, ban me from entering cinemas, prevent me from travelling, bar me from using buses, even lock me in Jurby Prison. But no one will stop me thinking my own thoughts, no one will stop me being true to myself and no one will ever extinguish my love of freedom.’