Property owners seek legal action against mass house party organisers

The owners of a property which was used for a commercial house party attended by more than 300 people are seeking legal action against the alleged organisers.

Officers broke up the party in a rented property in Midlothian at around 12.20am on Sunday and issued a fixed penalty notice to a 29-year-old man.

Police are now investigating the organisers of the “commercial event” for potential culpable and reckless conduct charges and licensing breaches.

In a statement released on Facebook, the owners of the property said: “The man we dealt with seemed very pleasant and we went ahead with the booking and check-in.

“The booking was hiring Kirkhill for the entire weekend.

“We were then sadly as owners contacted at 1.30am Sunday morning by our old neighbours to say there was a huge rave and police were in attendance.

“We are seeking legal action against the organisers of this event and are devastated as a family that our trust was broken.

“Not only that, but we felt sickened to have to clear up the aftermath and mess left behind.

“It’s after all our family home and we did not feel safe being there after so many people had been.”

Several recent coronavirus clusters in Scotland have been linked to indoor gatherings, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Friday asking the public: “As we go into the weekend, please think very carefully about indoor meetings in particular.”

She described the event in Midlothian as “utterly irresponsible”.

The First Minister tweeted: “It’s hard to put into words how utterly irresponsible this kind of behaviour is in current circumstances. It puts people at risk and threatens our progress out of lockdown. PLEASE do not attend house parties just now.”

Over that weekend, police broke up around 300 house parties and issued six fixed penalty notices.

Five of these were issued after a house party in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, on Saturday night, where two men were also arrested.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said those attending the Midlothian party showed a “blatant disregard for the regulations in place to help save lives and prevent the spread of coronavirus”.

He added: “Further investigations are being carried out with a view to what other charges may be brought, including culpable and reckless conduct.

“Anyone attempting to hold such an event, or any party in clear breach of the law, should be aware they will be met with a robust response from Police Scotland.

“I cannot stress enough the serious risk to public health an event of this size poses not only to those present and anyone they come into contact with, but also the wider community and all those from the emergency services who attended.”

Councillor Stephen Curran, chairman of Midlothian Police, Fire and Rescue Board, said: “Those 300 or so people didn’t just put themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus, they put residents across Midlothian and beyond at risk.

“To call them selfish and irresponsible is an understatement. We realise it can be challenging following the guidance but if the majority of us can do it then so can they.

“We are working hard to avoid lockdowns like those happening in and around Glasgow but we need everyone to help keep Midlothian safe.”

Alison McCallum, director of public health at NHS Lothian, said it was “critical” for people not to socialise as normal.

Current coronavirus restrictions north of the border state no more than eight people from a maximum of three households should meet indoors, while a temporary restriction in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire bans home visits.

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