High Court rules against Lord and Osmond over indoor reopening

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Judge's ruling: the High Court has ruled in favour of the Government in the case raised by Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond about indoor hospitality's reopening date (image: Getty/monkeybusinessimages)
Judge's ruling: the High Court has ruled in favour of the Government in the case raised by Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond about indoor hospitality's reopening date (image: Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Related tags: Sacha Lord

A High Court judge has ruled in favour of the Government in a case brought by Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond regarding the reopening date for indoor hospitality.

The case sought to challenge the 17 May reopening date and argued there was no evidence for the sector to remain closed while other indoor businesses such as non-essential retail reopened earlier.

However, Honourable Mr Justice Julian Knowles said it would be “academic” to push forward indoor reopenings given the time it would take for a hearing.

The virus meant a precautionary or cautious approach by the Department of Health was justified, the Judge said.

The action was launched by night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord and Punch founder Hugh Osmond, who both expressed disappointment with the ruling.

The duo had hoped for a speedier ruling and said it took a while for the case to get in the hands of a Judge last week.

Uphill battle

Lord said he was disappointed with the outcome, having previously experienced success in a ruling against a requirement for alcohol to be served with meals. 

“While this fight has always been an uphill battle, made harder by the Government's delaying tactics and refusal to mediate, we are pleased that the case has shone a light on the hospitality sector and the unfair and unequal guidance within the recovery roadmap," he said.

The pair also pushed back at a claim from the judge that their case was not raised in time. The claim was issued days after the Government’s roadmap was made law on 25 March.

Osmond said: "This judgment drives a coach and horses through our normal constitutional processes. Are we really being told that we should have issued legal proceedings on the basis of a Prime Minister's press conference and a yet to be published set of laws?"

Osmond and Lord also pointed to a SAGE report they had seen which cited just 226 outbreaks in hospitality venues since the beginning of the pandemic.

The report said that dining out at a hospitality venue “was not associated with increased odds” of catching coronavirus. 

We have the data

Osmond said there were questions to be asked about why the report was not disclosed amid the court case.

He added: “Our democracy should be better than this. The roadmap was based on models, not data, and today we have the data. 

“Vaccination, infection and hospitalisation rates are all far much better than was forecasted and the Government now has a chance to turn this around, to capitalise on the NHS' brilliant vaccination rollout, to follow the data rather than arbitrary dates based on outdated models, to believe in vaccines and to get rid of these appalling and severe restrictions once and for all."

There was not enough time before the indoor reopening to challenge the ruling, the duo decided.

Related topics: Legislation

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