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Fact check: British lawmakers are not facing house arrest, prosecution over coronavirus curbs

A video viewed more than 80,000 times on YouTube and shared across social media says all of Britain’s lawmakers will be put under house arrest and prosecuted for fraud and other offences linked to coronavirus legislation. There is no basis to this report.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

“House arrest” is not practiced in Britain. There is no evidence that any such charges have been made. The video appears to be a reference to threats of legal action made earlier this month by another online campaigner against coronavirus restrictions. That campaigner has since said he was shelving those plans. His attempt to bring a single private prosecution against one minister was rejected this week by a judge who cited lack of evidence.

The video (here), uploaded to YouTube on Nov. 22 and dated Nov. 5, shows campaigner Jonathan Trapman giving a speech in the English town of Glastonbury saying the MPs - “657 of them” – will be put under house arrest and charged with fraud and treason.

The video appears to be a reference to an announcement in September by Michael O’Bernicia, a self-described anarcho-missionary, that he was bringing private prosecutions against all of Britain’s MPs for voting through the Coronavirus Act 2020 – legislation that handed the government powers to impose restrictions ( here ). His statement made unsubstantiated assertions that the arguments for the legislation were based on “dishonest statements” and that passing it was an act of fraud.

Around two weeks later, O’Bernicia said on Facebook that the private lawsuit would now focus charging just health minister Matt Hancock with “criminal fraud by non-disclosure" ( here ).

O’Bernicia did apply to Suffolk Magistrates Court for a summons against the minister in November (here) but on Nov. 26, the court told Reuters by email that district judge Michael Snow had rejected the application as it had failed to meet criteria set out in the Fraud Act 2006 and lacked evidence of dishonesty linked to the Coronavirus Act. Therefore, legal proceedings never began.

VERDICT

False. MPs are not facing “house arrest” and a case has not been brought against them. The case against health minister Matt Hancock was rejected by a district judge, meaning legal proceedings never started.

Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here.

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