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Civil liberties group issues legal claim over covid pass scheme

CIVIL liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has issued a legal claim against Welsh Ministers over mandatory Covid Passes.

The Welsh vaccine pass was launched in October last year, the settings in which it must be used was later expanded, and is now needed for people attending cinemas, concert halls, nightclubs, theatres, and certain large events.

Big Brother Watch says the use of mandatory passes is “unlawful, disproportionate and unevidenced.”
The campaign group is pursuing a judicial review of the Welsh Covid pass scheme and full disclosure of the documents and advice that led Welsh Ministers to implement it.

“The group is ultimately seeking a court order quashing mandatory Covid passes.” A spokesperson has said.

The legal challenge follows weeks of correspondence between Big Brother Watch’s lawyers and the Welsh government.

The campaign group believe the reasons given for Covid passes “don’t stand up to scrutiny”.

“Welsh Ministers have so far refused to agree to Big Brother Watch’s repeated requests to publish their correspondence.” Big Brother Watch has said.

The group is now applying to the court for permission to publish their legal claim which quotes from the correspondence “in the interests of open justice”.

Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We support proportionate measures to protect public health, but there is exceptionally weak evidence supporting the role of Covid passes.

“We’re calling on the Welsh Government to disclose the documents and advice they say they’re relying on to impose the Covid pass scheme on people in Wales.

Welsh Conservative have backed the legal challenge, Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

“Vaccine passports are coercive, ineffective, costly to business, and continue to have no evidence base. We must not forget that they are not a route out of restrictions, they are a restriction.

“Therefore, the Welsh Conservatives are supportive of this legal challenge against the Labour Government’s continued imposition of the freedom-limiting passport on the people of Wales.

“As legislators, our job is to make good law and strike down bad law: vaccine passports neither limit the spread of the virus nor increase uptake of the vaccine, so have no place on the statute books.

“Labour, with Plaid Cymru’s support, are only keeping them in place so they do not look like their u-turning on one of the most poorly informed policies ever implemented during the age of devolution.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson told The Herald: “The Covid pass has been introduced as one measure – among many – to help keep businesses open while also helping to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS.

“The venues where the Covid pass is required have been chosen because they are mostly indoors and they see large numbers of people congregating closely together for prolonged periods of time. As we know, the longer large numbers of people are close together, especially indoors, the greater the risk of transmission.

“A stakeholder group was kept informed of plans and decisions. We continue to support businesses that are required by law to ask for a Covid pass with a range of advice and guidance.”