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COVID-safe protests exception welcome but temporary change in response to cross-party Parliamentary letter is not enough say Liberal Democrats

March 23, 2021 5:50 PM

Alistair Carmichael (By Keith Edkins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)All 11 Liberal Democrat MPs and 20 Liberal Democrat peers signed the cross-party letter from Liberty and Big Brother Watch sent to Priti Patel and Matt Hancock on 19 March 2021 calling for protests to be exempted from Coronavirus restrictions on gatherings in all Tier areas.

The Government has now indicated the inclusion of a specific exception for protests in the new COVID regulations.

Liberal Democrats Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: "It shouldn't have taken the appalling scenes on Clapham Common to force the Government to make clear that peaceful, COVID-safe protests are lawful. They should never have tried to stop them going ahead in the first place.

"The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right. It has always been a crucial part of our democratic society.

"But changing these temporary regulations isn't enough. The Conservatives must now drop the dangerous, draconian plans to crackdown on protests in their new Bill.

"These new laws are part of the Conservative Government's anti-democratic attempts to silence anyone who dares speak up against them. Liberal Democrats will fiercely resist them."