"Lockdown is not worth the destruction of the economy," says former Supreme Court justice

1 June 2020, 15:44 | Updated: 1 June 2020, 15:50

By Fiona Jones

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption tells LBC he does not believe the lockdown is worth the destruction of the economy, livelihoods or education and believes the number of people it has saved is "hugely exaggerated."

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption believes coronavirus lockdown was a "knee jerk reaction": "The only question that's actually worth asking is whether it's worth it.

"Leave aside the technical question, whether this will save lives or not, I think it will save some lives but the number has been hugely exaggerated."

He clarified he believes the number of lives saved due to lockdown has been exaggerated as the people with serious underlying illnesses have been affected and those under 50 who have died from the virus has been "miniscule."

Lord Sumption said lockdown is not just a public health issue, "you've got to ask...if it's worth the destruction of our economy, is it worth propelling millions into poverty? Is it worth destroying millions of jobs and small businesses, many of them permanently.

"The increase of deaths from other causes...is that worth it? A permanent damage to the education of our children, especially for our deprived children?"

"The number of lives lockdown has saved has been hugely exaggerated," said Lord Sumption
"The number of lives lockdown has saved has been hugely exaggerated," said Lord Sumption. Picture: LBC/PA

He said we have lived as human beings with epidemics for many centuries and "this is no worse than others" and firmly stated lockdown is not worth all of this.

Shelagh Fogarty countered that during the Second World War the nation conceded many deaths for the preservation of liberty, but this is a different situation as "the alternative isn't worth it."

"Human beings are constantly facing problems about the assessment of risk, constantly having to ask themselves how much it is worth doing in order to save lives," Lord Sumption said,.

"The real problem arises out of coercion, I certainly think there are very good reasons for self-isolation, there are therefore very good reasons for strongly advising vulnerable people to stay inside and avoid obvious sources of risk. The problem arises when you make it legally compulsory because...you have to have a one size fits all rule and leaves no space for common sense judgements."

He said the issue is not a one size fits all issue as each person has a different situation: "I think we should move to an entirely voluntary situation where people who are vulnerable can be advised but not compelled to isolate themselves and the rest can get on with their lives, restart the economy, restart the education system and so on."

The Former Supreme Court justice clarified that the public have had no legal obligation to follow the government's advice but the Prime Minister would have blurred the lines on this to ensure people stayed inside.