£10,000 Covid fines for organisers of Leeds lockdown snowball fight

28 January 2021, 17:30

By Kate Buck

Two men who organised a mass snowball fight during the current lockdown have each been fined £10,000 for the"blatant breach" of Covid rules.

The unnamed pair, aged 20 and 23, were tracked down after hundreds of people gathered for more than two hours on Woodhouse Moor, Leeds, on January 14.

West Yorkshire Police said this created "a significant and completely unnecessary risk of increasing the spread of the virus".

The snowball fight was filmed and widely shared on social media, provoking widespread condemnation as England endured freezing temperatures and strict lockdown rules, with many blaming students for the event.

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A force spokesman said the 23-year-old had already received a fine in November for breaching restrictions in relation to mixing households at an address in the nearby Hyde Park area.

He said both men were interviewed on Wednesday and Thursday in relation to the incident and reported for fixed penalty notices to be issued.

Hundreds gathered for a snowball fight
Hundreds gathered for a snowball fight. Picture: PA
Those fined are not pictured
Those fined are not pictured. Picture: PA

Organising any gathering of more than 30 people is illegal and leaves organisers liable to a £10,000 fine under coronavirus legislation, he said.

Leeds's police commander Chief Superintendent Damien Miller said: "We take absolutely no pleasure in handing out such heavy fines to these two young men but their actions encouraged hundreds of people to be in close proximity to each other, creating a significant and completely unnecessary risk of increasing the spread of the virus.

"It was a blatant breach of the legislation that is in place to help keep people safe at what remains a critical time for us all.

"The event attracted understandable media attention and widespread public condemnation of all those who irresponsibly took part.

"That said, it remains clear that the vast majority of people recognise the need for collective responsibility and are continuing to stick with the regulations that are there to protect our families and our communities.

"We will continue our approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance but we won't hesitate to enforce the law where people blatantly disregard the rules and put others at risk."