Student lockdowns are 'legally dicey', human rights lawyer says

29 September 2020, 10:20 | Updated: 29 September 2020, 11:15

By Kate Buck

A human rights barrister has told LBC's Nick Ferrari it is "legally dicey" to keep students on lockdown in universities with Covid-19 outbreaks.

Around 1,500 students in Manchester Metropolitan University have been told to remain in their flats at all times following 137 cases of coronavirus being confirmed on two campuses.

Students who have tried to leave have reported being barred from doing, something which Adam Wagner, from Doughty St Chambers, said was "very troubling".

"Well this is human rights plus really, because we've got a right not to be imprisoned by people who don't have lawful authority to do it," he told Nick

"That goes back to Magna Carter so we're talking about over 800 years of legal history on this.

Read more: Student hell - Anger grows with thousands trapped in ‘vile’ conditions

Read more: Manchester Met students get two-week rent rebate amid lockdown struggles

"As far as I understand it the students who are being told they can't leave and then face security guards when they try to were falsely imprisoned and I think that's very troubling. "

But what powers do the universities have to

Mr Wagner said: "The sanction that they can apply is that they can throw people out of the university and tell them they can't come back and that's perfectly reasonable that's no different to an employer who putting in place health measures that their employees have to abide.

"It does get to a point though where the students are living there and they can't access food or hygiene then they will be clearly in breach of their contract and it becomes legally dicey."

But Manchester Met's Vice Chancellor has since issued a statement saying the university has no legal powers to keep students in their flats, but urged them instead to do the right thing and remain indoors.

"My advice would be to speak to your union who can give you advice on what you can and can't do and what your rights are, and second of all do what's right," Mr Wagner added.

"Do what the university are advising you because we are all in this together in trying to stop this virus, but on the other hand if you feel that you're being detained then that's not on."

Watch the full exchange with Nick above.

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