This has been a hard week mentally and emotionally for a lot of us, and I have to admit that it’s wearing on me. If you’ve heard some of my radio appearances this week, maybe you’ve been able to pick that up in my voice or words. Sometimes when things wear like this, I need to either disconnect from social media or find something lighter to take in or talk about. And honestly, during this year of COVID that’s been all the more needed.

It was with that in mind that I came across an article from the United Kingdom that brought a smirking smile to my poli-nerd face, probably when I needed it the most. And what’s best is that it brought in one of my other loves in life; Football:

Yeah, just that headline alone forced you to read this story. Come on, admit it!  World, meet Bradley Orr, a retired professional football player from England (and tangentially for the old “local connection”, one time member of Toronto FC). Turns out that in his post-football life, he owns and operates a “soft play centre” in Merseyside. When COVID restrictions came into place, he decided to ignore them and came up with a different excuse for trying to tell government officials to leave him alone. His excuse? He claimed the Magna Carta allowed him to do it!

Yeah, the Magna Carta folks. He said that COVID public health rules didn’t apply to him because of it, and he refused to pay the more than £4,500 that he had been fined for ignoring the rules. But if you thought this story was crazy enough, just wait until you get to some of the written statements in the case. According to the statement from PC Alex Broadbent , when he informed Orr that he was breaking the rules, Orr told him that he was ” not entering into a contract with you” and that he refuses “to stand under” Broadbent. His written statement then went onto state that “Orr pointed out that he had an extract from the Magna Carta on the front door of his property which he asked me to read.”

On the door? Okay folks, let me just take a little detour here for a second to point out something that might normally need to be unsaid, but seems to be necessary here. If the indoor gym centre that you take your kids to has extracts from the Magna Carta plastered on the front door when you get there, maybe you should find another indoor gym centre to give your business to. But hey, that might just be me.

Anywho, this story reads like so many of the nutty stories you read about rank amateur self-professed lawyers during this pandemic who are trying to quote legal documents erroneously to defend whatever anti-social crap they wish. In this case, Orr falsely claimed that Clause 61 of the Magna Carta meant he could ignore laws that he deems “unjust”. Of course, on the face of it that is just crap, and we know that because you just don’t get to ignore laws that you don’t like. That’s not how a democratic society works. And even if that did, and this crock of an excuse was legal and correct, do you think that somehow 800 years after the document came to be no one else thought to do it? Seriously, over eight centuries have gone by and this retired mediocre footballer is the first genius to think this one up? Come on man, come on!

Anyway, like so many of these stories involving these wanna-be amateur Matlock’s, the answer to Orr’s false assertions came with just a bit more reading or research. As the BBC points out even though the Magna Carta is “one of the foundational documents of English law, only four parts of the Magna Carta remain valid.” And of course “none of those clauses allows citizens to decide which laws should apply to them.”

Of course, given how that bit of amateur legal genius turned out, the footnote to this story shouldn’t come as a shock. In another statement, PC Matthew Edwards pointed out on a later visit that Orr had acted “in a childish manner” and claimed coronavirus was “make-believe”. He went out to point out that “Orr began to quote that the Health Regulations 2020 were only legislations and not law and that he only listened to common law.” They were only “legislations and not law”?!?!?! Okay, that’s just a cherry of stupidity on top of this crap sundae of insanity.

Needless to say that the example of this Covidiot is ridiculous to the point of having to wonder if it’s actually satire and not real. The fact that it brings together a washed-out footballer who clearly took too many pops to the head, “soft gyms” and the Magna Carta in the same story is just goofy. It’s an insane Mad Lib that only COVID or this past year could create. Anyway, as we continue to fight COVID and get out of this pandemic, add Bradley Orr to the list of COVID-denying, anti-social goofs who have hurt society during this time of need that we must not forget. And yeah, don’t take your kids to gyms with the Magna Carta on the door too. Better to be safe than sorry.