A man who sued Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arguing he had been unlawfully detained by the lockdown has had his application declined.

Two applicants recently made multiple claims at the High Court in Auckland – including that the rules were "all for her political gain".

They asked for a writ of habeas corpus, which seeks to rule an imprisonment unlawful and release the applicants.

The two men, who are known to each other, not only argued the alert level 4 rules had left them unlawfully detained but said that it was not worth the economic cost compared with the low number of Covid-19 related deaths.


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But for one man, his case - which was also against director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Civil Defence emergency management director Sarah Stuart-Black - has failed, with Justice Mary Peters releasing her decision today.

In response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Bloomfield made an order on April 3 requiring all New Zealanders to remain at home, with the exception of essential movement.

It also asked people to observe physical distancing.

The applicant submitted in court that the order "constituted a gross breach" of human rights for all New Zealanders.

He further argued that the order subjected him and his family members to "detention" within the meaning of the Habeas Corpus Act 2001.

"This is because they may not leave their house for whatever purpose they wish, such as to swim, hunt or tramp, or to travel as they see fit etc, but only for essential personal movement," Justice Peters said.

However, she noted the man and his family "remain free to engage in many of their usual activities".


In her view, the freedom to go to the supermarket, talk to whomever and access the internet whenever, all as desired, differed from being "held in close custody".

"[The man] and his family are not subject to detention within the meaning of the Habeas
Corpus Act 2001," Justice Peters said.

"If I am wrong, and [the man] and his family are detained, the detention is lawful."

In a shared statement to the Herald the applicants, who both cannot be named, said they wished to appeal.

"We have never wished to put our heads above the parapet, to have to charge a well defended line, when the enemy forces greatly outnumber us, are well funded and supplied, and are ruthless.

"We charged when the choice not to was a greater cost than the sacrifice."

Their statement ended with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website