After a judge declared her arrest disproportionately arbitrary and in violation of her human rights, an anti-lockdown activist organized a “Freedom Rally” to protest the new restrictions on lockdown.

Debbie Hicks (46), was one of the organizers. The rally attracted more than 50 people who held placards and banners on November 7, 2013, two days after emergency restrictions were in effect.

Self-proclaimed anti-lockdown activist and free speech advocate, the man was previously arrested after filming in a hospital. He also shared footage that claimed the Covid pandemic was a “massive fraud”. 

On Monday, Ms. Hicks was charged by Cheltenham Magistrates with violating the Coronavirus Act for failing to leave Stratford Park in Stroud when asked by police. However, she pleaded not guilty.

A second charge was also dismissed. She denied participating because she conducted a risk assessment in order to meet the health and safety requirements for public events.

Debbie Hicks seen being arrested at a Freedom Rally, Anti Lockdown Protest at Stratford Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire, on November 7, 2020

Debbie Hicks arrested during a Freedom Rally at Stratford Park (Stroud), Gloucestershire on November 7, 2020

Ms Hicks has been cleared of breaching Covid restrictions at a freedom rally in Gloucestershire in November last year

Ms. Hicks was cleared from violating Covid at the freedom rally held in Gloucestershire last November. 

Nicholas Wattam, the District Judge of Nicholas Wattam stated to the court that Ms Hicks was responsible for organizing the gathering and facilitation after she conducted the risk assessments. She also provided the public speech system and invited speakers.

A lawyer for Ms. Hicks asked if she was just exercising her Freedom of Expression and Rights under the Human Rights Act.

Hannah Thomas said that Ms. Hicks would not have been found guilty of any charges if she had.

District Judge Wattam claimed that Gloucestershire Police’s reaction to the rally wasn’t proportionate or rational. 

He said that Ms. Hicks could have a reason to not adhere to Covid regulations, as her human rights are protected.

Richard Posner, the prosecutor, told the court earlier that the Coronavirus Act was in force November 5, 2020 and that police had been given the task to enforce the new regulations with their current powers of arrest.

Ms Hicks pictured wearing a party hat instead of a mask on the Tube

Picture of Ms. Hicks wearing a party cap on the Tube instead of a mask

He also stated that Ms. Hicks, who had completed an online form to assess the risk with Gloucestershire Police in October 26, claimed she was the organisator of the rally. Her contact details were included as part the application for November 7th.

The lunchtime rally attracted more than 50 participants. They were planning to march to the office of the local MP, but the crowd stayed in the park instead, according the court.

Police bodyworn cameras captured Ms Hicks telling an officer she did not know the number of people attending.

Tim Birch, PC, described hearing “jeering and tapping” over the sound of amplified speakers. 

The officer informed Ms Hicks that she would receive a summons notice for failing to vacate the park. But she made it clear she was going to remain at the rally.

She was arrested shortly after.

Ms. Hicks testified before the court that she has a passion for politics and was active in opposing Covid-19 restrictions during the past two years. I am not an anti-vaxxer, but the Government’s coronavirus restrictions are a cause that I feel strongly about.

“The rally was not a free speech exercise. The organisers decided the timing for the freedom march before any legislation was changed.

I feel that these restrictions are a threat to my life and freedom to express myself. This was not a protest. I’ve studied the laws around it. 

Although there was not a pre-publicity about Piers Corbyn’s anti-vaccination activism, it became known. In the end he didn’t appear at the rally. 

‘I think I had the legal right to be there, and that it was lawful for me to conduct this rally in a legal fashion. At the start of the rally, I requested social distancing be kept. The police were also thanked for their support. 

Ms. Hicks stated that the Covid Rules placed restrictions on her freedom to speak if she could not protest.

Ms Hicks is a former Labour council candidate and supporter of Jeremy Corbyn's brother Piers (pictured together), who is an anti-lockdown campaigner

Ms Hicks was a Labour council candidate in the past and a supporter of Piers, Jeremy Corbyn’s brother (pictured together). She is also an anti-lockdown campaigner.

While Mr Posner claimed she didn’t have any reasonable excuse for holding the rally, Ms Thomas stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her of organizing the event. 

She also stated that the police did not know the laws on the day she arrested. 

Returning his verdict, District Judge Wattam said: ‘The new regulations came into force on November 5, 2020 under the Government’s emergency powers.

“However, there are a number of exceptions to these rules – such as a person with a reasonable excuse such as Ms Hicks has put forward, citing Human Rights legislation. According to her, she is not guilty of violating the law because she engaged in legal protest.

“Living with this pandemic was not easy, and it is likely that it has been even more difficult to police. But I was concerned to learn that the Gloucestershire Constabulary had banned all protests on the day at issue.

“Such a policy does not amount to proportionate responses.

He stated that the rally took place in a public space, was peaceful, and encourages social distancing.

As such, Ms. Hicks could not attend the event.

The judge added: ‘I fear that the police officers’ understanding on the ground was flawed. This was due to the fact that a senior officer briefed the officers, but not because of the actions of the people on the ground.

“A blanket ban on public gatherings cannot be justified as it violates the Court of Human Rights legislation. 

Ms. Hicks from Stroud was found not guilty of the two charges.