Tristan Kirk Profile picture
Jan 19 11 tweets 5 min read
A woman prosecuted for breaking lockdown rules told a court she had inadvertently attended an illegal gathering.
"It was not intentional...I didn't realise there would be others present".

She was convicted and fined £250
She had popped round to deliver a birthday card, she said. No intention to attend an illegal gathering.

The woman apologised, and her guilty plea was taken into account at sentencing.
Some reasons for breaking the Covid rules are sad.

This Ilford man was threatened with a £10k fine - more than his annual wage - for an event marking a friend's death. It was cut to £1,200 at court.

Police focused on presence of a hog roast to say the gathering was pre-planned
A 66-year-old man from Brockley was accosted by police for meeting friends at his allotment to break up the loneliness.

He ended up with a £100 fine.
This man organised an online fundraiser to help pay his rent, as he struggled with mental health difficulties and economic woes in lockdown.

He protested that it hadn't been a 'party' but still ended up being prosecuted.
Police have swiftly rebuffed anyone who argues that they didn't know how many people were going to be at a gathering in advance.
Ignorance of the rules hasn't gone down too well either.

A landlord tried to blame government ministers over the scotch egg 'substantial meal' debacle, but eventually admitted he hadn't read the Covid legislation.…
This man appears to have been struggling when he broke quarantine, and was prosecuted despite apparent efforts to stick to the principles of the isolation rules.
"I did it because I didn't want to be alone"

I threw a party "to celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions"

Around 2,500 people have now been prosecuted for Covid offences in London, with many more still to come.
This man didn't care much for the rules, he was "saving lives on the dancefloor" and told police he would "sort this out in court".

When prosecuted, he didn't enter a plea and was convicted in his absence
And finally, a young man was prosecuted for throwing a drum&bass house party.

He insisted it was mistaken identity, and the case was dropped when he protested: "I really hate drum and bass".

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More from @kirkkorner

Jan 12
A west Londoner was prosecuted and fined for standing in the street on May 20, 2020 - the day of the alleged No10 Downing St garden party…
The government's rules criminalised conduct which would, ordinarily, be unremarkable:
- standing in the street with others
- walking 'shoulder to shoulder' with a friend
- sitting in a car with others
- drinking beer in the park
Fines in spring 2020 were relatively small (£60/£100) but could grow considerably once in front of a magistrate.

3 friends drinking in a park in Apr 2020 were fined £660, £810 & £660.
The 4th friend, who committed the same offence, had a different magistrate and was fined £150
Read 4 tweets
Jan 11
The fine for attending a BYOB party in the first national Covid lockdown was £60.
If the case went to court, the financial penalty was much bigger.

Here are extracts of police evidence when 4 people were having a drink in the sunshine in a west London park in Spring 2020.
Two of those at this gathering were fined £660 each. A third was ordered to pay £810. The fourth, who was dealt with by a different magistrate, was told to pay £150.

None had paid the initial £60 penalty, which would have been reduced to £30 if they settled it within 14 days.
There are thousands of people around the country who were fined, prosecuted, & left with criminal records for breaking Covid rules.

They were caught at the time, rather than evidence emerging months later.
Read 6 tweets
Dec 16, 2021
Police appear to be no closer to investigating goings-on last Christmas in Downing St or Tory HQ

Let me tell you about a young Kingston man & his year fighting a massive fine for a party on Dec 13 last year.

This should make MPs stop and think about the system they've created.
Student Othniel Agyei, 21, is accused of throwing a birthday party for a friend at his home, with around 40 people present.

People were enjoying a drink, shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen, 'cheek by jowl' perhaps...
Sounds like a breach of Tier 2 rules, on police evidence.
There is a second police statement, however, which may be important.
One of the guests at the party identified a man called 'Ben' as the organiser, casting at least a little doubt over who organised the event and who might liable for a fine.
Read 14 tweets
Dec 6, 2021
The Downing Street 'party' debacle has shone a welcome light on what's been happening in Covid-19 prosecutions in London.

That Ilford gathering I posted earlier is one of a series of cases dating back to December 2020 which are before a magistrate this week:
All bundled through the Single Justice Procedure, not in open court, not publicised in any meaningful way to the public, dealt with by a magistrate sitting behind closed doors.
There have been more than 2000 of these type of prosecutions in London since last September.

More than £1.2m in fines imposed, for lockdown parties, illegal gatherings, after hours work drinks, and more.
Read 4 tweets
Dec 6, 2021
The Met Police happens to be, this week, prosecuting an alleged illegal gathering on December 18 last year.

Not in Downing Street, but a house in Ilford.
Being around a year ago isn't the issue - I'd imagine this prosecution was launched last month.

However the basis of it is overwhelmingly likely to be a police officer's statement, giving evidence of what they saw on Dec 18.
The Downing St 'party' case faces two obstacles:
- police policy not to investigate Covid breaches its officers didn't personally witness
- a lack of actual evidence

Nothing insurmountable, but you'd imagine a whistleblower speaking to police is essential.
Read 4 tweets
Oct 21, 2021
Thousands of court hearings per year are set to be moved behind-closed-doors, under govt plans before Parliament at the moment.

The Judicial Review & Courts Bill would reduce open hearings to private messages between lawyers and the court, in a hefty assault on #OpenJustice
The plan is to allow magistrates court hearings involving the allocation of 'either way' offences to be dealt with administratively.

In 2019, 37,539 defendants were sent for or elected jury trial. Under the proposals, their first appearances in court could have been axed.
The new plans are summarised on the second page, here:…
Read 18 tweets

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