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NEWS

Short Update: Threat to protest from new fines for illegal gatherings in the UK

FT Admin - September 10, 2020 - New criminal offences, COVID-19 Updates

Police in England can now issue fines of up to £10,000 to the organisers of ‘illegal’ gatherings of more than 30 people. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can set their own enforcement rules. 
 
There are concerns that the new powers could be used to close down protests. Piers Corbyn, brother of Jeremy Corbyn MP, was arrested and fined £10,000 for organising a rally against COVID-19 measures in London on 29 August. He was charged again in relation to an anti-mask protest in Sheffield last Saturday. He is alleged to have arranged, facilitated and taken part in a gathering of more than 30 people. He is also accused of failing to wear a face covering in a public space. 

The Metropolitan police did back down from using COVID powers to investigate the organiser of a march against systemic racism after recognising that the march was a political protest, and therefore exempt from COVID regulations. 

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