Bindmans LLP are representing nurse Karen Reissmann in a challenge against Greater Manchester Police for their decision to prevent Karen from protesting and fining her £10,000.
Karen organised a small and safe protest on 3 March 2021 against the government’s planned 1% pay rise for NHS staff. This protest was prevented from going ahead by the police on the incorrect basis that all protest was banned under the Covid-19 regulations. Karen was subsequently fined £10,000 for her role in organising the protest.
Greater Manchester Police’s position in respect of the decision making for preventing the protest was that all protest is criminal under the regulations, regardless of whether or not there is any public health risk arising and regardless of the risk reduction measures in place. This policy was unlawful.
Bindmans LLP wrote to Greater Manchester Police to explain why their understanding of the regulations was incorrect and requested that they withdraw the fine against Karen. Greater Manchester Police have maintained their position. Karen has therefore instructed Bindmans LLP to challenge their decision through a claim for judicial review.
Bindmans partner, Jules Carey, who is representing Ms Reissmann, said:
Health and safety concerns provide the core rationale governments always rely on when restricting liberties. Protest is a cornerstone of democracy, and while it has been necessary for protest to adapt during the pandemic, the courts have agreed that such a fundamental right cannot be removed. Despite this, police forces have consistently relied on the Covid Regulations as a pretext to ban protest.
This is not just a dangerous encroachment on the rights of citizens but it risks muting important voices that would help government avoid costly mistakes. It is both an error in law and common sense not to listen carefully to people on the streets protesting at this time and perhaps especially those like Karen on the frontline of the pandemic. We remain hopeful that GMP will recognise that they got it wrong, withdraw the fine and apologise to Karen.
The Observer article covering this story can be found here.
Our client’s crowdfunding page can be found here.
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