ONE of Scotland’s leading lawyers has attacked the UK Government’s Coronavirus Bill, which he said would wipe out “in one stroke” more than 50 years’ worth of civil liberties.

Aamer Anwar said the Bill, which MPs passed yesterday, was “the most draconian piece of legislation” and while the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic could justify restrictions on certain rights, he said all legislation had to be underpinned with a respect for human dignity and rights.

This could only happen if there was “transparency and resources devoted to the crisis and our media, politicians and lawyers can hold the Government to account”.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Draconian measures ‘risk fresh spike in numbers’

Writing on his blog, Anwar said: “These laws will not happen in isolation, there has been little practical concern for the poor, the vulnerable, prisoners, immigration detainees, those on zero-hour contracts, the self-employed, those renting or those being forced to come to work.

“We have seen no measures to mitigate the outcome of enforced school enclosures which will drive families further into poverty, but also increase chances of spreading the virus as workers now considered key workers are forced to leave children with families.”

The lawyer said the Bill presented the option of cutting services where they were already desperately needed and transferring them to fighting a pandemic which could continue for some time.

The National:

“At the same time we are expecting a Conservative Government to protect our NHS when they have been decimating it for years,” he said.

“We know in the days ahead there will be huge turmoil, riots have started to take place in prisons where both the incarcerated and prison officers are terrified of being in a giant Petri dish, or rather a burning house whose doors and windows are bolted shut.”

Anwar said that overnight the country would be turned into a “police state” and added: “The UK Government has been exposed as incompetent, callous and uncaring, yet we are expected to provide unconditional support as they go to war against a ‘silent killer’… Why would anyone believe a party which wanted to abolish the Human Rights Act to be trusted with ‘policing’ the greatest crisis to hit the UK since the Second World War?

“The Tories cannot claim to care about saving lives when they have cut hospital beds by 17,000 from the NHS since 2010 ... The concern is that the darker elements of the Conservative Party, and we know who they are, will see this as an opportunity to carry out an all-out attack on civil liberties.”