Artillery Row

Churches say Welsh lockdown is unlawful

Christians leaders have launched a judicial review against the Welsh Assembly

Christian leaders have today started legal proceedings against the Welsh Assembly, arguing that closing churches as part of the lockdown is “both unlawful and unnecessary”.

Arguing for the lockdown on Monday, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales said the NHS would fail unless action was taken but Christians say including churches in the lockdown is “an extreme interference with Article 9” [of the Human Rights Act].

Churches will not legally be permitted to open their doors to the public from this evening, except for weddings and funerals.

The pre-action letter, sent from Andrew Storch solicitors states:

The forced closure of churches by the state is an extreme interference with Article 9 rights. Such a far-reaching and large-scale intervention may only be justified by the most compelling scientific evidence of a resulting benefit to public health.

Rev. Peter Greasley, Senior Pastor at Christchurch, Newport, said:

It is vital for a church that serves on the front lines of a community in need to be able to meet and worship together. For 25 years we have served the people of Newport and beyond materially, emotionally and spiritually. We run the Newport Foodbank, which local people need urgently at this time. We also work extensively with social services, the police and the local health board who use our facilities at a reduced cost. If our church is not able to function properly then neither can these important services.

The letter was also signed by leaders of English churches who are concerned that the forced closure could easily set a precedent in the rest of the UK. Rev. Matthew Roberts, the Minister at Trinity Church York, has written for The Critic, arguing that it is contradictory to try to preserve life at the same time as banning Christian worship in Church and says the church closure goes against the traditions of Wales and the UK and is “folly of the highest order”.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the group, said:

In the face of a crisis the answer is not to shut down churches that provide the safe havens in our communities across the nations of the United Kingdom. Churches are often the glue that holds our communities together; often places where the most vulnerable in our society and those hurting from Covid find community and hope.

Today’s judicial review against the Welsh Assembly is the first legal action taken by Christians against Covid regulations and comes in the wake of an open letter signed by 700 church leaders across the UK which called on the Government not to shut their doors again.

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