A law centre specialising in the rights of disabled people is threatening legal action against both the Scottish and the UK Government in the wake of the Dominic Cummings scandal, for failing to provide for adequate support for disabled people during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Glasgow-based Disability Law Centre claims that the childcare reasons invoked as "exceptional circumstances" by Mr Cummings to justify his driving from London to Durham should have been applied to disabled people, and neither Government took account of the needs of disabled people in stating what might count as exceptional circumstances.
Daniel Donaldson, principal solicitor, on behalf of the Disability Law Centre commented: “The Disability Law Centre is considering legal action and judicial review.
“It has now emerged that it is possible to claim 'exceptional circumstances' where it is necessary to seek support or care for a loved one; this was never made clear at any point during the lockdown.
“Thousands of people with disabilities have been forced to follow the UK Government regulations – this includes foregoing access to their families as a source of support.
“Mr Cummings has stated that his journey was 'essential' and one of the 'exceptional circumstances' permitted by the regulations. On the same basis, the 'exceptional circumstances' should have applied to disabled people and their families too. Why was this not made clear in all Government messaging to date?”
He continued: “Dominic Cummings was in charge of making the rules; he was the person in charge of all Government messaging during lockdown, he now claims he was allowed 'exceptional circumstances', yet it never occurred to him that the disabled people and their families may need to claim 'exceptional circumstances' too.
“This confirms what we have said all along; disabled people are being discriminated against by Government in the lockdown. Neither UK nor Scottish Government have addressed the needs of disabled people adequately during the lockdown. It should have been clear from day one of the lockdown that disabled people, or their families could claim 'exceptional circumstances' for the purpose of disability related support.
“There can’t be one rule of those who make the rules, and another for disabled people who may also require support from families living many miles away.”