Ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption blasts ‘collective hysteria’ over coronavirus, attacking the decision to put the public into ‘house imprisonment’ while ‘wrecking our economy for an indefinite period’
Lord Sumption, who was a judge from 2012-2018 gave an interview to the BBC
He said politicians had not thought about ‘whether the cost will be worth paying’
Came after Boris Johnson ordered people to stay at home as much as possible
The Government also forced businesses to close and spent billions in job aid
By DAVID WILCOCK, WHITEHALL CORRESPONDENT FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 14:50, 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:55, 30 March 2020
A former Supreme Court judge excoriated ‘collective hysteria’ over coronavirus today, suggesting extreme measures put in place to slow its spread were excessive.
Lord Sumption, who sat for six years on the UK’s top judicial body, accused the public of forcing politicians to take action without thinking about ‘whether the cost will be worth paying’.
As the death toll from coronavirus in the UK reached 1,415 the retired lawyer, 71, said the UK was showing ‘classic symptoms of collective hysteria’.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, he said: ‘Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.’
He spoke after one of Number 10’s leading experts had said the UK’s coronavirus outbreak looks to be slowing down already, following the Government’s recent decision to put Britain into lock-down.
Professor Neil Ferguson claims to have detected ‘early signs’ that the spread of the life-threatening infection was being curbed by the draconian measures, with the rate of increase in hospital admissions dipping.
Professor Ferguson – one of the authors of a bleak Imperial College, London, report that convinced Downing Street to ramp up its efforts to resolve the crisis after warning that 250,000 Britons could die under a controversial plan to build-up ‘herd immunity’ – warned deaths are still likely to rise sharply as they lag two or three weeks behind the new infections.
But Lord Sumption insisted today that draconian measures like telling people to stay at home as much as possible, closing shops and other businesses, and spending hundreds of billions of pounds to prop up the economy, were over the top.
He stood by his views despite all of the evidence and advice shared by medical experts across the UK.
He added: ‘Yes, this is serious, and, yes, it’s understandable that people cry out to the Government, but the real question is: is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hard-working people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt?
‘Depressions, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable stress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable [to Covid-19] and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.’