Piers Corbyn has second ‘lockdown breach’ charge thrown out by trial judge

A judge has thrown out a charge of breaching coronavirus restrictions against anti-lockdown protester Piers Corbyn.

District Judge Sam Goozee said it was wrong for Corbyn, 73, to be charged with a count of breaching coronavirus rules during a gathering at Hyde Park in London on May 30, because he had already been issued with a fixed-penalty notice (FPN) earlier that day.

Defence counsel Ben Cooper QC cited a subsection of coronavirus rules that said no proceedings can be taken against someone issued with a FPN until 28 days after it was handed out.

The trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday heard Corbyn was issued with an FPN at just before 1pm, and was charged later that evening.

Prosecutors said the notice given to Corbyn was not a FPN.

But the judge ruled otherwise, and said the defence had no case to answer in relation to that charge.

Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said: “Thank you, your honour.”

He remains on trial accused of a solitary count of breaching restrictions, relating to a separate gathering on May 16, also at Hyde Park.

Coronavirus – Sat May 16, 2020
Police lead away Piers Corbyn during a protest in Hyde Park, London, in May (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Prosecutor David Povall previously told the court that the gatherings near the park’s Speakers Corner on May 16 featured about a hundred or more people and could be characterised as “anti-lockdown”, with those present “engaged in a protest concerning issues around coronavirus and the coronavirus regulations”.

He said that Corbyn, of East Street, Southwark, south London, had allegedly taken part in the protests by “addressing the gathering and encouraging … others to gather around him to listen to what he was saying”.

Officers had adopted a “light touch policing” approach by encouraging the gatherings to “disperse without the necessity for enforcement action”, Mr Povall said previously.

Mr Povall said Corbyn had “deliberately” participated in the gathering “by way of making public addresses” and that he allegedly “disregarded advice and directions from police over a sustained period”.

Body-worn police camera footage of the May 16 incident was played in court, which showed an officer approach Corbyn to ask him to leave the area.

The video showed Corbyn using a megaphone to claim that Covid-19 “is not a pandemic” and argue that “if it carries on like this we have a big brother society imposed upon us”.

He could also be heard to say “stop interrupting me” when being spoken to by an officer.

Corbyn was shown to be handcuffed and led away surrounded by a group of police officers, while people could be heard chanting “shame on you”.

Mr Povall told the court that the protest had been “peaceful and generally good humoured”.

The trial continues.

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