Student fined £10,000 for organising snowball fight says revellers ‘should be punished’ | #students | #parents


A student fined £10,000 for organising a snowball fight during lockdown has called for the Downing Street staff who attended a Covid rule-breaking party to “get treated in the same way”.

“If you break the rules then you should be punished in accordance to those rules like everybody else,” Xen Watts told i.

The 23-year-old, who was studying at the University of Leeds at the time, made a Facebook event for a snowball fight “as a joke” which he deleted a couple of hours later.

But the damage was already done and within a few hours there were hundreds of people in Hyde Park, Leeds.

“In my interview the police were implying that I was responsible for 1000s of deaths related to the snowball fight,” he said.

He was fined £10,000 for organising a large event in a public place. He has not yet paid the fine.

It comes after new revelations emerged about two further Downing Street parties held on the eve of Prince Philip‘s socially distanced funeral while Covid restrictions remained in place across the UK.

It is the latest in a series of allegations of parties in Downing Street and across Westminster that breached coronavirus regulations in place at the time.

Mr Watts, who believes that regardless of the Facebook event “people would’ve gone to the park anyway”, said news of the parties at Downing Street “makes you lose your faith in government a bit”.

“As long as they have to face the same repercussions as everybody else does, then that’s fair,” he added.

More on Downing Street

Criminal justice watchdog Fair Trials has called for an end to all Covid-related prosecutions in the UK and for all fines and convictions to be rescinded.

Chief Executive of Fair Trials, Norman Reimer, said: “We cannot have a justice system where people in power can break lockdown with impunity while others are prosecuted and fined.

“The Government’s response to the pandemic has been to extend police powers and create a raft of new criminal offences. Policing has been heavy-handed, discriminatory, and in hundreds of cases, unlawful. The pandemic has highlighted pre-existing divisions in our societies and none more so than in our criminal justice system.

“While ordinary people were being fined for meeting more than one friend, those in power engaged in such conduct with impunity while calling for others to be prosecuted. What better evidence is there that we have a two-tiered system of justice?”

As of November 2021, police in England and Wales had processed a total of 118,438 fixed penalty notices for breaches of coronavirus restrictions, Fair Trials found.

As of June 2021, 369 fines of £10,000 had been given out for “participating in a large gathering” of more than 30 people. 3,941 fines of £800 had been given out for participating in a gathering of more than 15 people.



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