Billingham lockdown breach pub's appeal to the High Court is denied

The Pig Pint

After a two-year court battle, a bar that had its license revoked for serving customers during a coronavirus lockdown has lost.

Paul Henderson frequently kicked open the Porky Pint in Billingham to express his displeasure with Covid-19 limitations.

The High Court has now upheld Stockton Council's decision to revoke his license to serve alcoholic beverages.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has contacted Mr. Henderson for comment after ordering him to pay almost £11,000 in costs.

In the court's ruling, Mr. Justice Fordham, who presided over the case at the High Court in Leeds, stated that complaints had been made to the council about the lack of Covid-19 control measures at the pub during Stockton's Tier 2 restrictions, which forbade indoor meetings of two or more people except for wedding receptions of up to 15 people.

On October 30, 2020, The Porky Pint hosted a wedding reception with 30 guests, according to the ruling.

Further Covid-19 regulations forced pubs to close and outlawed on-site food and beverage sales in November 2020, but the building was still operating as a pub days later, the court heard.

When a licensing official entered, he was welcomed and asked if he would like a drink. People were seen drinking, hot food was being served, and a TV was playing sports.

Mr. Henderson told police that he was not required to shut down the business and that he believed track and trace and social segregation violated his human rights, the judge said.

Five drinkers had been ejected by police, but a few days later the pub was open once more.

The court heard that Mr. Henderson admitted to police that he did not think coronavirus existed. Despite a prohibition notice, he promoted the pub's reopening on Twitter in January 2021.

According to testimony given in court, he expressed opinions about the government's integrity and the veracity of the pandemic while telling a licensing officer he did not believe official statistics.

More than 40 letters in support of Mr. Henderson from locals and other parties were submitted to the council's licensing committee, many of which praised both Mr. Henderson and the beloved pub.

Nevertheless, the licensing panel revoked his license after discovering "extremely serious" violations in light of the thousands of lives lost to the pandemic.

At Teesside Magistrates' Court, Mr. Henderson was unsuccessful in a prior appeal.

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