Patrick Christys: 'It’s time to hand the Covid fines back'

Patrick Christys says: 'Boris Johnson apologised yesterday, kind of, but the fact is this has gone down incredibly badly with many people. It has had cut through. Sometimes, when you’re apologising, a gesture can be a good way to go'.

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It’s time to hand the Covid fines back.

Not just because Boris Johnson and Downing Street staff broke the rules, but because the police, it seems, allowed it to happen. There is absolutely no way on earth that the police officers at Downing Street didn’t know there was an illegal gathering going on.

They turned a blind eye.

Now, I personally don’t think these rules should have been in place at all anyway, so I’m not massively bothered about it but the fact is that the same week that the booze was flowing and the pizza was sizzling in Downing Street, 807 people were fined for breaking Covid rules.

In the week between 15 and 21 May 2020, police handed out 807 fixed penalty notices under Covid laws in England and Wales, data from the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) shows. At the time, the default fine for breaking the law had been recently raised from £60 to £100, rising to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offences.

There was no formal appeal mechanism in place, meaning anyone wanting to contest a fine had to risk prosecution by refusing to pay. But, get this, a third of the fines that were reviewed were found to be unlawful.

I was having a look at some of the ridiculous things people were fined for and I don’t think it gets better than this. Two divers got into difficulty, there was a massive search and rescue operation launched for them, helicopters, life boats, and the Royal Navy ship HMS Tyne. After two hours of searching, a sailor on the Navy ship spotted the lone diver three miles from where he had entered the water. This bloke was freezing, he’d just survived a near-death experience, he was clinging to life. Anyway, when he was brought back to land… he was treated, he was wrapped in one of those foil blankets, shivering away…and he was fined for breaking Covid rules.

This is another one that’s INSANE - The landlord at the Minsthorpe Hotel, near Pontefract, was fined £1,000 for breaking coronavirus laws in October 2020. Punters leapt up from their seats when Leeds United scored against Manchester City, just as council officials and local police were checking that covid regulations were being followed in the area. At the time, drinkers were only allowed to REMAIN SEATED in groups of no more than six.

A man was fined for eating a kebab in his car at Cheddar Gorge. One woman said, in May 2020, she often went to Kensington Park Gardens for her permitted exercise. On one afternoon, she said a Met Police officer patrolling the park from a car shouted at her for leaning forwards on her stationary bicycle while reading her book. She told MailOnline: 'I told him I was resting and he shouted, 'no you're not, you're reading'. 'Not willing to equate the two, he then yelled, 'I'm not going to sit here arguing with you. MOVE'.

But, all joking aside, this is the way the police were behaving towards ordinary people. Bully-boy tactics and egregious fines. Like the Stasi.

The police were able to track down a woman who travelled to her 97-year-old mother’s care home, which had a Covid outbreak, pull the car into a service station and arrest her before taking her mum back to the care home.

The fact is that whilst these fines were being dished out to people, there was cheese and wine on the go in Downing Street and the police were waving it through. Both those in Downing Street and the police collectively have the power to hand the public’s fines back, and I think they should exercise that power.

I do think it was interesting yesterday that Keir Starmer didn’t really go after Boris for breaking the rules that much, he went after him more for lying. Why is that? Could it be because Starmer himself broke the rules?

Mark Drakeford in Wales, he’s been filmed breaking the rules. Look at the media - Kay Burley and Beth Rigby have got a bit of a nerve having a pop at Boris after their little party. Peston was pictured maskless at the Downing Street press conference. Nobody is squeaky clean.

Nobody got the rules 100% right, 100% of the time. Boris Johnson apologised yesterday, kind of, but the fact is this has gone down incredibly badly with many people. It has had cut through. Sometimes, when you’re apologising, a gesture can be a good way to go. Handing peoples cover fines back would be a pretty good gesture.