Lockdown breach pub loses High Court appeal

time:2023-06-09 05:56:11source:NBC News author:Press center5

A pub stripped of its licence for opening during a coronavirus lockdown has lost a two-year legal battle.

Paul Henderson repeatedly opened the Porky Pint in Billingham in protest against Covid-19 restrictions.

Stockton Council revoked his licence to serve alcohol and now the High Court has upheld that decision.

Mr Henderson, who has been ordered to pay almost £11,000 costs, has been approached for comment by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

In the court's judgment, Mr Justice Fordham, sitting at the High Court in Leeds, said complaints had been made to the council about a lack of Covid-19 control measures at the pub when Stockton was in tier two restrictions, with indoor meetings of two or more people banned except for wedding receptions of up to 15 people.

The Porky Pint hosted a wedding reception with 30 guests on 30 October 2020, the judgement said.

It was also open as a pub days after more Covid-19 regulations required pubs to close and banned on-premises food and drink sales in November 2020, the court heard.

A licensing officer walked in and was asked if he wanted a drink, and people were seen drinking, hot food being served and a TV showing sport.

Mr Henderson told police he was not required to close the premises and felt social distancing and track and trace were a breach of his human rights, the judge said.

Days later, the pub was operating again with five drinkers removed by police officers.

Mr Henderson told officers he did not believe in coronavirus, the court heard. He advertised the reopening of the pub on Twitter, despite a prohibition notice, in January 2021.

He told a licensing officer he did not believe official statistics and had views on the government's honesty and the validity of the pandemic, the court was told.

The council's licensing committee received more than 40 representations from residents and others supporting Mr Henderson, including praise for him and the valued pub.

But the licensing panel found "extremely serious" breaches given the thousands of lives lost in the pandemic and revoked his licence.

Mr Henderson lost a previous appeal at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

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