Why quoting Magna Carta doesn't allow conspiracy theorists to ignore Covid-19 rules

Conspiracy theorists quoting the Magna Carta in a bid to avoid Covid-19 rules are wasting their time, experts have said.
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In recent weeks, a number of businesses and individuals have been quoting the English charter of rights dating from 1215 in a bid to keep their firm open or to flout lockdown rules.

But anyone trying out the ruse is in for a shock – because the idea is total nonsense and has never enjoyed success in a court of law across the globe.

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According to conspiracy theorists, Article 61 of the Magna Carta allows for lawful dissent and rebellion. It also means that businesses don’t have to close under Covid-19 regulations, according to believers.

Quoting the Magna Carta and claiming to be a Freeman of the Land doesn't work in the courtsQuoting the Magna Carta and claiming to be a Freeman of the Land doesn't work in the courts
Quoting the Magna Carta and claiming to be a Freeman of the Land doesn't work in the courts

Videos and stories have been circulating online in recent weeks showing firms using Article 61 to try and stay open.

Clause 61 set out rules for 25 specific barons – but it did not allow the general population to rebel, and was also removed from subsequent versions of the document.

A number of posts on social media have claimed that under “Article 61” of Magna Carta people have the right to lawfully dissent or rebel if they believe they’re being governed unjustly.

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The first Magna Carta was originally drawn up in 1215. However, it was quickly declared null and void by the Pope on the grounds it interfered with the authority of the King, and a civil war broke out in England. Following this it was then reissued in various forms over the following years, resulting in yet another version issued in 1225. It is this version that forms the basis of our common law today.

The contents of Magna Carta were placed on the statute book in 1297. In the centuries since however, much of this has been repealed.

The original 1215 version of Magna Carta had 63 clauses. Only four of these clauses are still relevant today, according to the parliament website. Clause 61 is not among these, as it was omitted from all subsequent versions of Magna Carta and was never incorporated into English law.

Another attempt to avoid following Covid-19 rules has also surfaced in recent weeks – with people declaring themselves Freemen to avoid coronavirus restrictions.

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Freemen of the Land, a highly secretive group that originated in 1970s America and Canada, has spread to the UK and followers are united in their belief that a big state conspiracy exists between the government and court system to take away their common law rights.

Lawyers have dismissed freemen's bizarre claims as a conspiracy theory and they are not known to have won a single case in court.

Freemen of the Land are those who believe the law is something that can be opted out of - and that they are only bound by statute laws if they consent to them.

There is no recorded instance of freeman tactics being upheld in a court of law and many believe it is a conspiracy theory.

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But there have been numerous instances where freemen have tried to argue their way in a court of law - always ending in failure.

The main difference between common law and statutory law is the way in which the laws are created.

Common law comes from precedent, while statutory law is written law passed by legislature and made by the government.

But freemen hold that they are only governed by common law - which is why they claim that courts are irrelevant to them.

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They claim that statute law only applies to them if they give their explict consent.

People who class themselves as FMOTL say they are born with one name and given another by the government through the name written on their birth certificate. This is sometimes known as the “strawman” theory.

This means that “freemen” claim to have a sort of “get out of jail” card by saying that any court is holding only their fictional self - the name written on their birth certificate - to account rather than them.

But former government lawyer Carl Gardner describes the freemen concepts as “pseudo law” and told The Sun: "They use law like magic spells. That means they're no longer subject to the law.

"It is a fringe thing, and a conspiracy. I think the far right is very invested in it, I think we all need to be a bit careful of it."

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