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Piccadilly Gardens anti-lockdown protest organiser set to contest £10,000 fine

He says the event was not illegal.

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The organiser of the Piccadilly Gardens anti-lockdown protest has said he will contest the £10,000 fine police handed him.

Fitness trainer and ‘ex-military veteran’ from Trafford, Paul Boys who organised the protest insists it was not illegal.

The ‘Rise Up Manchester’ rally was attended by as many as 600 people in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens on Sunday afternoon.

GMP fined the 40-year-old man £10,000. 25 £200 fixed penalty notices were also handed out. 

Speaking to the MEN, he claimed he had been given the go-ahead by a police liaison office, filled out risk assessment forms and that the event was ‘legitimate’ and not illegal.

In a Facebook post, he wrote: “Images in the press of heavy police presence and reports of fines, arrests and injured officers all took place after the event had finished and organisers had left, and therefore we do not accept any responsibility for this incidences.”

Under the latest lockdown legislation, no more than two people can meet at a time. 

Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Mabs Hussain, said: “Ahead of Sunday, officers attempted to engage with the person organising this gathering – warning him of the likely consequences and advising, for his and everyone else’s sake, to abandon his plans.

“However, he decided to ignore this advice and pressed ahead with a reckless and completely irresponsible course of action. He has been left with a significant financial penalty as a result.”

In a YouTube video, Mr Boys said the event was ‘arranged to be a Remembrance parade as well’.

He added that they were told by police the ‘state of the art sound system’ would be seized and £10,000 fines issued. 

He then said they ‘adapted’ and used a megaphone to speak from different sites in Manchester instead.

He added: “I said to the police, anything that happens – arrested [sic], fines – I will accept responsibility as organiser,”

“I told the police I would tell everyone that’s turned up… that the rally has been cancelled… therefore it’s over and people can do as they wish.

“I expressed to everybody that I am going for a walk, which is within my legal rights, to be able to go for a walk, on my own.

“If anyone decides to follow me, that’s their own decision. So we went for a walk.

“I was then given a megaphone, which is also within my rights as an individual, who is not part of any group or part of any organised rally. I just decided to go for a walk and speak at different sites.”

Mr Boys explained that people ‘turned up in their own bubbles’ and that he asked them to ‘adhere to social distancing rules’.

He went onto explain that the arrests were made at ‘small gatherings’ which were not affiliated with him.

ACC Hussain said: “Work is ongoing to identify others who were in attendance at the gathering and blatantly breaching Government restrictions.

“Gatherings such as this increase demand on our officers, who are already working tirelessly in difficult circumstances to help protect our communities.

“Government restrictions on social distancing are in place to control the spread of Covid-19.

“We recognise that these are difficult times, but I would implore everyone to think of their loved ones and do your bit to fight the virus, as well as protecting our NHS, by complying with current restrictions during lockdown.”

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Police seize over £3m worth of counterfeit goods in Cheetham Hill raids

GMP are stamping down on ‘the illegal distribution of counterfeit items’, and ‘the supply of illicit prescription drugs’

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Police have seized over £3m worth of counterfeit goods in a series of Cheetham Hill raids conducted as part of their ‘crackdown’ on counterfeit fraud.

According to a statement issued by Greater Manchester Police last night, Officers from City of London, North West Regional and Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), Border Force, Immigration and local officers yesterday executed their tenth raid on Lockett Street and Bury New Road.

There, £1million’s worth of goods including clothing, accessories, bags, perfume and jewellery were found and seized. This added to the other £2m worth of goods found across the last week. 

Six men, all aged between thirty-six and sixty-one, have all been arrested and released under investigation pending further enquiries, according to the force.

The raids come as part of GMP’s Operation’s ‘Magpie’ and ‘Cranium’, which aims to tackle ‘the illegal distribution of counterfeit items’, and tackle ‘the supply of illicit prescription drugs’.

Inspector William Jennings-Wharton from the Cheetham Neighbourhood team said in a statement: “This is all part of our continued work to tackle organised crime taking place in Cheetham Hill and I want to reassure the local community that we are listening to their concerns and this week’s action is all part of our continued crackdown.

“Counterfeit goods and drug dealing will not be tolerated and all of these raids are a huge step in really driving a wedge in organised crime in the area.

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“Counterfeit goods are not a victimless crime – though these desired items may look good and are cheap, they are funding a wider picture that involves money laundering, organised crime and cheap labour.

“The profits from such businesses can be used to fund other serious crime, and often with that comes violence which can have a devastating ripple effect on communities and nearby legitimate businesses.”

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council added: “Counterfeit crime runs far deeper than just the sale of knock-off coats and handbags [as] there are deep links to other criminal enterprises and the sale of fake goods only puts money in the hands of criminals. 

“We remain committed to tackling this practice at the source and will continue to work with our partners in the police to secure prosecution against perpetrators… And get fake goods off our streets.”

Anyone with information has been encouraged to report it online or by using the LiveChat facility at www.gmp.police.uk or by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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This is why some supermarkets are refusing to enforce the new face mask rules

Supermarket bosses have spoken out

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A number of supermarkets have addressed the reason they won’t be enforcing the new face mask rules that are now mandatory across the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of face masks and self-isolation over the weekend in a bid to tackle the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

However, despite the mandate being backed by the government, a number of supermarket bosses announced that they would not be enforcing masks upon their customers.

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Iceland was the first supermarket to announce its stance on the matter, with the chain’s managing director Richard Walker saying he wouldn’t be asking staff to enforce the new restrictions as they focus on the ‘long-term recovery of the high street.’

Walker told The Daily Mail: “We fully support the reintroduction of compulsory face masks in shops, however, we won’t be asking our store colleagues to police it.

“Our store teams, alongside all retail workers, have shown heroic efforts in terms of ensuring safety for customers and building back consumer confidence and it’s crucial that we stay focused on the long-term recovery of the high street.”

Supermarket giant Co-op has also said that they would not be enforcing face coverings in their stores – nor would they refuse to serve a customer without one.

The British Retail Consortium has said it’s down to the police to enforce the measure, saying, as per The Sun: “Customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff.”

Since then, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl have all echoed this stance, with each saying they have no plans to challenge customers over the wearing of a face covering in store.

Nickolay Romensky / Flickr

Alternatively, Asda and Morrisons have announced that they will be regularly enforcing the use of face masks while also handing out free masks to those who don’t have them, while Sainsbury’s said it will have ‘greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets’ to remind people to wear masks. 

A statement from the Government on the rule change read: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”

All hospitality is exempt from the rule change. 

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Boris Johnson reveals plan to offer all adults booster jabs by the end of January

NEWS JUST IN

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The government plans on offering all adults booster vaccines by the end of January, Boris Johnson has revealed today.

The Prime Minister spoke at a Downing Street conference this afternoon where he announced the planned booster rollout will take place across 1,500 pharmacy sites across England in age order. 

Over 400 military personnel will help with the rollout, Johnson added.

Noting that it’s ‘time for another Great British vaccination effort’, Johnson said: “The target we’ve set ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January.

“As with the first jabs, we’ll be working through people by age group going down in five year bands, because it’s vital that the older and more clinically vulnerable get that added protection first.”

The Prime Minister stressed that even those who had their second jab over three months ago should wait until the NHS contacts them about a booster appointment.

This announcement comes as face masks are made compulsory once again in all shops and on public transport.

The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

The change in rules was announced by the Prime Minister after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. 

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that all adults will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine as part of a reaching expansion of the jabs programme to deal with the potential impact of the new variant.

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