Ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption says rule of six is 'unenforceable'

13 September 2020, 10:37 | Updated: 13 September 2020, 13:23

By Ewan Somerville

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Jonathan Sumption has warned the rule of six is “unenforceable” and staying safe should be left to the individual.

The former senior judge likened the strict new ban on gatherings of more than six people, coming into force on Monday, to a Stasi state. 

He told LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday show: “You can enforce it if you’re sufficiently intrusive - you can put spies on every street, you can have marshals watching through windows but unless you do that people are not going to respect it unless they think it’s a good idea.

“Many people do but there’s a very large number who don’t.”

He called the Government’s law-making “blunderbuss” and added: “We’ve wtried the most aggressive form of social distancing possible - a complete lockdown - other European countries have done it even more fiercely than we have. 

Read more: Boris Johnson battles backbenchers over 'rule of six'

Read more: PM's 'Covid-secure marshals' will have no powers, Government admits

“Does it work? No, it does not, that’s why we’re in the current position.”

The draconian new social gatherings ban will be enforced with £100 fines, rising to  £3,200 for repeat offenders, and will apply indoors and outdoors with certain exemptions such as political protest and organised team sports. Boris Johnson said "Covid-secure marshals" would urge people to follow the rule, but would not have any power.

Dozens of Tory MPs are understood to have broken ranks over the rule, with Steve Baker leading the charge that it is an assault on civil liberties. MPs are urging the Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoye to review the legislation every month.