Home Office 'grossly misstates the law' by tweeting 'all gatherings are illegal'

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
Priti Patel's Home Office has been accused of 'grossly misstating the law' by tweeting 'all gatherings are illegal'. (Twitter/Getty Images)
Priti Patel's Home Office has been accused of 'grossly misstating the law' by tweeting 'all gatherings are illegal'. (Twitter/Getty Images)

The government has been accused of “grossly misstating the law” after it incorrectly said “all gatherings are illegal”.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner said a social media video posted by the Home Office (see below) amounted to “fear-mongering” and is “legally illiterate”.

Posted on the Home Office’s Twitter page, it shows a number of clips of police officers breaking up illegal gatherings including house parties, raves and baby showers.

However, it ends with a message saying: “You shouldn’t be meeting up. Meeting up is against the law.”

The video itself is also captioned: “All gatherings are currently against the law.”

On the contrary, Wagner posted on Thursday that “all gatherings are not illegal” and that “meeting up is not against the law”.

He referenced the government’s own coronavirus lockdown legislation for England and listed examples such as work, volunteering, assisting vulnerable people, support groups and avoiding harm as exceptions which allow gatherings or meeting up with others.

Wagner said the video should be “removed” as it “could lead to people misunderstanding and not e.g. leaving home to assist the vulnerable”.

Yahoo News UK has approached the Home Office for comment.

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It’s not the first time the Home Office has been accused of getting lockdown rules wrong since Boris Johnson imposed the restrictions on England on 4 January.

Home secretary Priti Patel herself got basic rules wrong twice in the space of three days last month.

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First of all, she wrongly said “outdoor recreation” was allowed. The rules, in fact, state: “You cannot leave home for recreational or leisure purposes (such as for a picnic or a social meeting).”

The Home Office later clarified Patel was talking about exercise when she referred to “recreation”.

Secondly, Patel incorrectly said people can only exercise alone. In fact, the rules allow one person to exercise outdoors with one person from another household.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown