Police in Tier 2 areas 'argue with pub landlords over Scotch eggs'

4 December 2020, 07:35

Police have been criticised for "overzealous" enforcement
Police have been criticised for "overzealous" enforcement. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Police have been accused of "overzealous" enforcement in pubs after landlords reported arguments between punters and officers in Tier 2 over whether a scotch egg is a "substantial meal."

Landlords also reported incidents of customers being thrown out by police as soon as they had finished their meal.

In an email seen by the Telegraph, Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young's, said officers in London on Wednesday told customers to leave pubs as soon as they had finished their meals and said they had been "intimidating" customers.

Mr Dardis emailed all Young’s staff after the incidents, reporting “intimidation, bordering on harassment from officials in some of our pubs”. 

It comes mixed messaging over post-lockdown rules for pubs left ministers with Scotch egg on their face and the public confused about what counts as a "substantial meal".

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove joked on LBC that he might enjoy a couple of Scotch eggs "with pickle on the side" as a starter but it would not count as a "substantial meal".

However, he later changed his tune and told ITV that it does in fact count as a substantial meal.

"I myself would definitely scoff a couple of Scotch eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise that it is a substantial meal," he told the broadcaster.

It comes after environment secretary George Eustice's told LBC just the day before that a Scotch egg was in fact a substantial meal, and last month's claim from communities secretary Robert Jenrick that a Cornish pasty with a side dish was enough for a pub in Tier 2 to legally stay open.

Mr Gove said there was a "well-understood definition of what a substantial meal is" but the Government has said it will not release guidance on what foods constitute a main dish.

The concept of the substantial meal had existed in law for many years, allowing families to buy 16-year-olds an alcoholic drink with food.

Tier 2 rules stipulate that customers can only order alcohol with a “table meal” and can only dine inside with members of their own household or to hold a business lunch or dinner.