In a decision that is extremely disappointing and of grave concern, the High Court has dismissed outright the claimant’s application for judicial review and to challenge the offer of Pfizer’s mRNA injectables to healthy five to 11 year-olds. Mrs Justice Farbey’s decision on July 19th 2022 reveals the court’s determined and seemingly now absolute reluctance to scrutinise Government decisions where Covid is involved.
As it stands, it also arguably leads to the conclusion that the court will not entertain challenge to any:
- ministerial decision said to be in response to a pandemic reliant on expert advice;
- advice or decisions of any expert regulatory body (certainly including the MHRA and JCVI);
- poor or inaccurate information being provided by the Government to the public about medical treatments (regardless of any misinformation or coercion).
There could be an exception, for example a case of obvious fraud, but it is hard to imagine those circumstances being discovered.
With the High Court declaring the application “totally without merit”, the only way forward now is to the Court of Appeal, but this carries great risk, since complete endorsement of this decision by that court would set a precedent that other judges would have to follow.
The decision with its limited reasons is here. On whether to appeal, and time is very short, the claimants will need to consider and reflect at least on the following extracts of the decision.
1. A challenge of highly detailed and scientific evidence.
The judge asserts the “well-established principle that the courts will be reluctant to interfere with multi-factorial decisions that raise broad questions of social policy and/or decisions that rest on highly detailed technical and scientific evidence”.