Murder is an emotive word. In law, it requires premeditation. Death must be deemed to be unlawful. How could “murder” apply to failures of a pandemic response? Perhaps it can’t, and never will, but it is worth considering. When politicians and experts say that they are willing to allow tens of thousands of premature deaths for the sake of population immunity or in the hope of propping up the economy, is that not premeditated and reckless indifference to human life? If policy failures lead to recurrent and mistimed lockdowns, who is responsible for the resulting non-covid excess deaths? When politicians wilfully neglect scientific advice, international and historical experience, and their own alarming statistics and modelling because to act goes against their political strategy or ideology, is that lawful? Is inaction, action?1 How big an omission is not acting immediately after the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020?
At the very least, covid-19 might be classified as “social murder,” as recently explained by two professors of criminology.2 The philosopher Friedrich Engels coined the phrase when describing the political and social power held by the ruling elite over the working classes in 19th century England. His argument was that the conditions created by privileged classes inevitably led to premature and “unnatural” death among the poorest classes.3 In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell echoed these themes in describing the life and living conditions of working class people in England’s industrial north.4 Today, “social murder” may describe the lack of political attention to social determinants and inequities that exacerbate the pandemic. Michael Marmot argues that as we emerge from covid-19 we must build back fairer.5
Coerced vaccination, no jab – no pay – no job, is not a thing of the future. The ‘vaccine hesitant’ are being sacked and it is happening now.
Barchester Healthcare Ltd employ a staff of approximately 17,000. Over several months they have conducted a campaign successfully to ‘persuade’ all their workforce to have a Covid-19 vaccine. They say about 90% have been vaccinated. They have written to the rest to say that, unless they can provide evidence of medical exemption, then their employment will be terminated.
Their campaign of persuasion has been nothing less than coercion. Barchester have offered a vaccine bonus for the vaccinated but for employees who do not agree to be vaccinated, they have repeatedly and expressly threatened.
The legal case
The law has not changed. The Human Rights Act is still in place, as is the legal requirement for informed consent.
Coerced injection of any substance is an interference with fundamental human rights that must be justified as necessary and proportionate. In circumstances where the government keeps repeating that the vaccines do not stop transmission and that the vulnerable have been vaccinated already, it is difficult to see any justification whatsoever.
Irrespective of your thoughts about these treatments – who may or may not benefit from any Covid vaccine, their efficacy, the adverse events, their experimental nature, unknown medium or long term harms or whether they should be regarded as unlawful because there is no longer an emergency – everyone still has the right to their personal and bodily autonomy.