Big Brother Watch Team / December 24, 2021

  • NGO begins human rights legal challenge to stop Johnson’s Covid passes
  • Campaigners call the Covid pass scheme “draconian, discriminatory and pointless”
  • Challenge comes after 126 MPs rebelled against domestic Covid passports

Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has launched a legal challenge against the new mandatory Covid passport law in England, claiming the “draconian, discriminatory and pointless” scheme breaches privacy rights and must be stopped.

The NGO also claims the government has breached equality law by permitting Covid pass “spot checks” under the new scheme, without taking any steps to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory checks.

The non-profit group’s legal challenge comes in the wake of the most significant backbench rebellion of Boris Johnson’s premiership against Covid passes, which saw 99 Conservative MPs vote against the plans.

Big Brother Watch’s pre-action letter notes that no evidence has been provided that the mandatory use of Covid passes will benefit public health, that Covid passes were not recommended by SAGE, and that a parliamentary report on Covid passes found “no justification for them in the science and none in logic”, concluding that mandatory Covid passes are unnecessary and disproportionate.

Big Brother Watch is leading the campaign against mandatory Covid passes across the UK, and is backed by over 7,000 members of the public who have collectively raised over £215,000 via Crowdfunder to support the campaign. Big Brother Watch also initiated a legal challenge against the Welsh government’s Covid pass scheme in November, and is pressing the Welsh government to disclose all relevant documentation.


Big Brother Watch Director Silkie Carlo said:

“Mandatory Covid passes are draconian, discriminatory and pointless, and we are concerned that the new scheme breaches the Human Rights Act and equality law.

“Covid IDs don’t tell you that a person doesn’t have Covid or can’t spread Covid, but do make society less free, less equal and less accessible for people.

“We face serious and evolving public health challenges. But Covid passes have been proven to fail in Scotland and Wales and will do nothing to protect people in England. This is safety theatre that carries real risks of harm, intrusion and division.”

“There are far more effective measures to keep people safe than excluding healthy people without the right health papers from society.

“We urge the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to scrap mandatory Covid passes. If they don’t, we will seek to make our case in court.”


  • Big Brother Watch has instructed John Halford and Shirin Marker of Bindmans LLP, and Charlotte Kilroy QC of Blackstone Chambers.
  • A copy of the pre-action letter is available here.
  • Spokespeople are available for interviews. Contact Big Brother Watch’s 24h media line on 07730439257 or email
  • Big Brother Watch’s campaign page is at