Wednesday 24 February 2021

The right to silence, citizen's duties and the Coronavirus Regulations - Neale v DPP

Keith Neale’s conviction for obstructing a police officer was quashed by the High Court, sitting at Cardiff. In an important judgment on the right to silence, the legal duties of citizens and the operation of Coronavirus Regulations, Mrs Justice Steyn and Lord Justice Dingemans held that justices at Newport Magistrates’ Court had erred in distinguishing Mr Neale’s case from Rice v Connolly and in finding him guilty of wilfully obstructing a police constable by declining to give his name and address to a police officer.

On 23 April 2020, during the first lockdown, Mr Neale, a 60 year old man, had gone into Newport City Centre to take his key worker friend’s car for an MOT test. He was sitting on a bench waiting for the test to be done when he was approached by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), who asked him to provide reasons for being in public and to provide his name and address so that a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) could be issued. Mr Neale declined to provide this information. A police officer attended the scene and demanded Mr Neale’s name and address. He refused and was then arrested and taken to a police station despite the risks involved during the height of the pandemic.

Mr Neale was prosecuted under the original Welsh Coronavirus Regulations for leaving home without reasonable excuse and obstructing a police officer by refusing to provide his name and address so that a Fixed Penalty Notice could be issued to him.

Quashing Mr Neale’s conviction, the High Court stated that:

the Appellant was under no common law obligation to give the police his name and address;

the right to silence is not reserved only for the innocent and those beyond suspicion (in Mr Neale’s case he was, in fact, acquitted of the offence he had been accused of);

the Appellant was not under a statutory obligation pursuant to the Coronavirus Regulations to give his name and address to the police – the Coronavirus Regulations do not expressly create such an obligation;

the Appellant’s refusal to provide his details foiled the police officer’s intention to issue an FPN but did not render the legislative scheme unworkable – if there are grounds for suspecting an offence and the suspect refuses to give their name and address they can, pursuant to section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, be arrested, as the Appellant was in this case. It was not therefore necessary to imply an obligation to give details to the police into the Regulations in order for the legislative scheme to operate;

the Appellant’s case was distinguishable from other cases where wilful obstruction had been found – most importantly, none of those cases were about compelled speech;

the right to remain silent is a particularly important part of our law. In addition, an obligation to give a name and address to the police would engage Articles 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights;

the courts should be wary of expanding police powers by implication – where Parliament has chosen to compel speech it has done so expressly;

the absence of an express obligation to give a name and address in the Coronavirus Regulations powerfully demonstrates that it does not exist;
the Appellant was not required to give his name and address to the police and it follows that his refusal to do so was not wilful;

the justices at Newport Magistrates’ Court erred in distinguishing the Appellant’s case from Rice v Connolly in finding him guilty of wilfully obstructing a police constable.

The judgment was a significant restatement of the position in Rice v Connolly that there is no general common law duty to assist the police and a person cannot be guilty of wilfully obstructing a police officer by remaining silent when questioned if there is no legal duty to answer questions. There is no such duty under Coronavirus Regulations.

Separately, Mr Neale’s case raises serious questions about the enforcement of Coronavirus Regulations and may have implications for policing and for those who have been issued fixed penalty notices by the police and/or prosecuted for offences under the Regulations.

Firstly, the case calls into question the logic behind aspects of the criminal justice response to the public health crisis created by the Coronavirus pandemic. Mr Neale was not placing anyone at risk when he sat on a bench lawfully waiting for an MOT test to be completed. The risk to public health, and cost to the taxpayer, was brought about by his subsequent arrest, detention and prosecution.


Saturday 20 February 2021

The Food & Drug Administration - Covid 19 'vaccine advice' - (Jan 2021) Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The FDA is the Food and Drug Administration in USA. They are responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation in USA.

Here is some of their contradictory advice, mixed with facts and confusion.

"The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a vaccine and may prevent you from getting COVID-19."

"There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19"

"The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine may not protect everyone."

"The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19."

"The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown."

"There is a remote chance that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine"

"Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is still being studied in clinical trials."

"The Pfitzer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has not undergone the same type of review as an FDA-approved or cleared product."

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine includes the following ingredients:
mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

Source: FDA

Sunday 7 February 2021

Number of UK deaths per 100,000 people every year since 1970 - Simple facts.

The UK Government measure the Covid infection rate by the number of cases per 100,000 people. They use this number as a reason for putting restrictions into place.

If you use the same calculations to measure the death rate in the UK since 1970, you can see that the year 2020, was the 15th lowest for the number of deaths in a year out of the last 50 years.

0.89% (900 deaths per 100,000 people) of the population died in 2020, compared with the highest death rate in 1976 of 1.06% (1065 deaths per 100,000 people)