Businessman Simon Dolan vows to go to Supreme Court after losing challenge of government's 'onerous' Covid-19 rules

Businessman and entrepreneur Simon Dolan has said he plans to pursue a Supreme Court hearing after losing a bid to challenge the government's Covid-19 rules.

Mr Dolan argued the rules that aimed to slow the spread of coronavirus were among "the most onerous restrictions to personal liberty" in almost four centuries.

He took his case to the Court of Appeal after a High Court judge refused permission in July for a full hearing of his claim against Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson over the restrictions.

His case was refused at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday but Mr Dolan said he plans to seek permission to take his case to the Supreme Court.

Following the decision, Mr Dolan said he was "absolutely gutted" that the Court found in the government's favour.

In a judgment published on Tuesday, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh, dismissed Mr Dolan’s argument that the restrictions were unlawful because the government acted outside its powers under public health laws.

In their ruling, the three senior judges gave initial permission for a judicial review of Mr Dolan’s claim that the government had acted beyond its powers under the Public Health Act 1984 in making the regulations.

But they then made a final ruling on this claim, dismissing it, saying the Health Secretary “did have the power to make the regulations under challenge”.

The court refused permission outright for Mr Dolan to bring his challenge on other grounds, including that the regulations were a breach of the Human Rights Act, saying “those grounds are now academic, because the regulations under challenge have been repealed and, in any event, they are not properly arguable”.

In a statement, Mr Dolan said: "I took up this legal battle because, since March, the government has seized power and control over people’s lives in a manner which has never been seen before, even in wartime.

"They have done this using emergency powers [in the Public Health (Control of Infectious Disease) 1984 Act] and have sought to justify the ‘emergency’ with spurious data and discredited modelling.

"The regulations were imposed without prior scrutiny by Parliament. They were signed into law by ministers guided by unelected scientific ‘experts’, many of whom are on the state’s payroll.

"Any vote by Parliament was just a rubber-stamping exercise. We find ourselves in a situation where we no longer live in a functioning democracy.

"Our only recourse was to challenge the lockdown by way of judicial review. If Parliament did not examine the lockdown and the courts will not review what the government has done, then who is holding ministers to account? We are living in a country where the government can do whatever it wants.

"Given the continued acquiescence of MPs and peers to the making of the lockdown laws, our last chance to challenge these destructive measures may now rest with an appeal to the Supreme Court."

Simon Dolan argued Covid-19 restrictions restricted people's freedoms. Credit: PA

Mr Dolan, who according to the Sunday Times Rich List is worth £200 million, argued the restrictions are unlawful because they are outside the government’s powers under public health legislation and a "disproportionate breach" of human rights laws.

He also claimed the Health Secretary "failed to take relevant considerations into account" and "acted irrationally and disproportionately".

At the October hearing Mr Dolan's barrister Philip Havers QC, said lockdown regulations “introduced restrictions on the freedoms of the people in this country never seen before in times of peace or war”.

Documents before the court said Mr Dolan’s claim “involves a wholesale challenge to some of the most onerous restrictions to personal liberty” imposed since the time of Oliver Cromwell and the English Protectorate in the mid-1600s, “if not ever”.

A crowdfunder for the legal action, which as of Tuesday had raised £410,000 of its £450,000 target, says: "We believe that the Govt has acted illegally and disproportionately over the Covid-19 lockdown and we are taking action.  

"By forcing people to stay at home, and forcing businesses to close, they are, we believe, in contravention of basic Human Rights offered under English Law, that of the right to enjoy your property peacefully."

Mr Dolan, who is British but lives in Monaco, said the legal challenge was "not a one-man crusade".

He added: "It is on behalf of the families and businesses across the UK whose lives have been wrecked by lockdown policies which were implemented in haste without proper consideration.

"Our legal challenge has become one of the largest crowdfunded cases in UK legal history. We have raised over £410,000 from almost 14,000 pledges. This fight is on behalf of all of those people."

A school leaver at 16, Mr Dolan went on to set up his own accountancy firm before building a portfolio of start-ups in various sectors including publishing, motorsport and engineering.

He became known as the 'Twitter Dragon', inviting people to pitch their business ideas to him on social media in just 140 characters.