Keir Starmer has described the possible ten-year jail term for someone lying about their recent travel history to get around UK coronavirus border restrictions as “an empty threat”, after it was defended by ministers.
The government announced this week that those who lie about travelling to ‘red list’ countries would face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and up to ten years in prison – longer than the maximum sentence for some sex offences.
The move was disapproved of by lawyers, such as lockdown-sceptic Jonathan Sumption and ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve who said the penalty was “entirely disproportionate”. Starmer has now joined the criticisms.
Commenting on the maximum jail term today, Starmer – a former director of public prosecutions – said: “I have prosecuted many cases that have ended in a ten-year sentence, and I know an empty threat when I see it.
“The effectiveness of what happens at the border is to do with testing and quarantining. But pretending there’s going to be a ten-year sentence, when in reality I don’t think there is, I don’t think is really helping anyone.”
"I know an empty threat when I see it"
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who used to be a lawyer, criticises the 10-year jail term announced by the government on Tuesday for people who lie about having been in a "red list" countryhttps://t.co/dPhT6yxyNk pic.twitter.com/M6gFuLf8aT
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 10, 2021