Adam Wagner

Emergency State
  • Emergency State

  • On 26 March 2020, a new law appeared. In 11 pages, it locked down tens of millions of people, confined us to our homes, banned socialising, closed shops, gyms, pubs, places of worship. It restricted our freedoms more than any other law in history, justified by the rapid spread of a deadly new virus.

    You might have expected such a law to be fiercely debated in Parliament. But it wasn't debated at all. A state of emergency was declared, meaning the law came into force the moment it was signed. The state of emergency lasted for 764 days, whilst ministers brought in over 100 new restrictions, almost never debated, increasingly confusing the public, and some - we would find out - stained with corruption. Meanwhile, behind the doors of Downing Street officials and even the Prime Minister broke the very laws they had created.

    This book will tell the startling story of the state of emergency which became an emergency state, how extreme measures caused constitutional chaos, and why it is only by understanding these unprecedented events that we can learn lessons for the future.

Adam Wagner is one of the UK's leading human rights barristers and the country's preeminent expert on Covid-19 laws. He was described in the House of Lords as 'the only person in the country who can make sense of this variety of regulations'. He appeared regularly on TV, radio and social media, interpreting the bewildering Covid-19 laws, explaining to Piers Morgan whether it was legal to sit on a park bench, and helping the public understand when politicians have broken Covid-19 laws. He also acted in many of the key legal cases, including for Reclaim These Streets relating to their rights to hold a vigil following the murder of Sarah Everard, in a series of cases about the hotel quarantine system and in a variety of challenges to fixed penalty notices for breaching lockdown laws. Adam was the Specialist Advisor to the Joint Committee on Human Rights year-long Inquiry into the human rights implications of Covid-19 and is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at Goldsmiths University.

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