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‘Big Brother Watch’ campaign group launches legal action against Welsh Covid passes after raising £180,000

10 Nov 2021 4 minute read
A screenshot from the Big Brother Watch web page

A civil liberties and privacy campaigning organisation, Big Brother Watch, has vowed to bring legal action against mandatory Welsh Covid passes.

They have raised almost £180,000 through an online crowdfunder and now say they will use the money in order to challenge the legality of the Welsh Government’s passes.

People in Wales will have to show a COVID pass to enter cinemas, theatres and concerts from 15 November after Labour and Plaid Cymru voted for the move in the Senedd last night.

Big Brother Watch said it would launch a legal challenge against the “authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced” scheme.

The campaign group was founded by Matthew Elliott, who also founded the TaxPayers’ Alliance and was the chief executive of Vote Leave.

“Big Brother Watch strongly believes these authoritarian, invasive and unevidenced internal health passports need to be scrapped, now,” they said.

“This is the first human rights legal challenge in the UK against Covid passes – and we’re only able to start this thanks to your incredible support.

“There are far more proportionate, effective and inclusive measures to keep people safe and get the country back to normal than excluding healthy people without the right health papers from society. But we will never get back to anything like normal with health ID checks that will inevitably continue to expand.”

The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Conservatives also opposed bringing in Covid passes in October and the extension of their use in November.

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds said that the system was “both illiberal and unworkable” and that the Welsh Government had “broken trust” by expanding a scheme it initially stated was for very limited circumstances.

“Despite requests to the Health Minister, we have not been provided with any evidence that shows the scheme has been effective in keeping down case numbers. There has also been no evidence provided to as why cinemas, theatres and concert halls have been singled out specifically,” she said.

“Both the Government’s own advisory unit and Chief Medical Officer have themselves admitted in the last week that the impact of the scheme is likely very small.

“It is deeply concerning the impact this decision will have on small businesses across Wales, over the last few weeks a number of community cinemas and theatres have gotten in touch with to express their fear of how they are meant to hire new staff to enforce this scheme without any financial support from the Welsh Government.

“Beyond the practical implications of this scheme remains an example of poor law-making with no set review period. How long will the passes be in place? Where and when will they be expanded to next?

“There will be serious financial repercussions if the scheme is expanded to other forms of hospitality including restaurants and cafes. We could also end up in the same situation as Italy, which has now mandated COVID Passports for public transport.”

‘Positive feedback’

The vote came as parts of Wales have the highest coronavirus rates in the entire UK.

Following the vote, Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said that Covid “has not gone away and cases remain high and we need to continue to take steps to keep Wales safe”.

“The NHS COVID pass is one measure among many to help to keep businesses open while also helping to control the spread of the virus,” she said.

“The decision to introduce them has not been taken lightly and the venues that will be covered are indoors and see large numbers of people being closely together for prolonged periods of time.

“Since 11 October, people have been required to show an NHS Covid pass or recent negative lateral flow test result to enter nightclubs, similar venues and events and the service is working well.

“We have received positive feedback from a range of businesses and organisers of major events, including following the recent rugby internationals.

“We will continue to work with the sectors who are implementing the scheme to best support them.”

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2 years ago

Founded by the chief exec of Brexit group, vote leave. That should tell you all you need to know about big brother watch. If his record of lies in the Brexit campaign are anything to go by, we can all look out.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
2 years ago
Reply to  Gareth

Founded by the founder of Conservative Friends of Russia and a close associate of Putin’s man in Whitehall, Dominic Cummings, is I think more relevant when he claims “civil liberties” credentials. His track record as a Brexit liar is the icing on a rotten cake.

I wonder who pays his bills? He doesn’t seem to have had a paying job since Thatcher died.

Ann Morris
Ann Morris
2 years ago

They’ve got Covid passes in Italy, as in most of the rest of Europe. At the moment, there are fewer Covid cases in the whole Italy than in Pembrokeshire. Italy has a population of around 70 million, Pembrokeshire has a population of around 125,000. Friends of ours have just returned from visiting family in Italy. They felt safe there and the Italians were enjoying freedom of movement and were getting on with their lives with their usual exuberance. Nobody could understand the way we are mis-managing the pandemic here.

2 years ago

Much as I dislike these weird organisations that spring up to “defend liberties” often led by guys who would be quite comfy in a brown shirt and all the trimmings I think there is a point to debate about these passes. Mass gatherings do not conform to one single stereo type. As seen over recent weekends rugby matches do attract a disproportionate number of brain dead wallies and they need controlling far more than achieved to date. That said most of those buffoons could muster a pass anyway but there is a behavioural aspect that such passes just are not… Read more »

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
2 years ago

Who funds the london based group trying to overturn the democratic decisions of Wales’ Parliament? Read this story to find out

2 years ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Mark Littlewood who is DG of IEA a far right lobby group who is part of the is sitting on the board, these people are no friends of Wales

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