£10k fine for Rita Ora breaching coronavirus rules ‘proportionate’ – minister

Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
·2-min read

A £10,000 fine for breaching coronavirus laws could be “proportionate” for someone like Rita Ora, according to a Government minister.

Kit Malthouse told MPs a fixed penalty notice of that size – designed to be a “serious deterrent” against flouting restrictions – may be appropriate for someone like the pop star, who had enjoyed international success.

The policing minister made the comments after being asked by members of the Commons Justice Committee whether a £10,000 fine was a proportionate amount to pay for a Covid breach.

The fines were introduced to address indoor gatherings and others considered “super-spreader events” which were seen as “extremely dangerous” and often took place in “virus hotspots”, he said, telling MPs they were meant to be a “serious deterrent” to bring “significant consequences” for such behaviour.

But he pointed out that fixed penalty notices can be challenged in court and it is then for the court to decide what is an appropriate amount depending on individual circumstances.

He said: “Now if you are Rita Ora, who happened to fall foul I think at one point, then probably £10,000 might be proportionate given that very talented performer’s enormous success internationally – that might be a fine that is proportionate.

“But for others who still committed the same offence, but want to challenge it in court, then it’s for the court to decide how they can achieve the same impact financially on that individually.”

The pop star apologised last year for an “inexcusable error of judgment” after admitting breaching lockdown restrictions when she held a “small gathering” at a west London restaurant to celebrate her 30th birthday.

The incident was described as “one of the most egregious, and certainly the most notorious, breaches of the regulations committed on licensed premises” by police lawyers at a subsequent licence review hearing for the restaurant.

At the time it was understood Ms Ora offered to pay any fine imposed as a result of her actions.

Police later confirmed four people were reported for coronavirus rule breaches but would not disclose details about any fines that may have been issued.

It comes after a group of MPs and peers branded coronavirus fines “muddled, discriminatory and unfair” and called for a review of all of those issued under lockdown laws.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said the system “criminalises the poor over the better-off” and no Covid-19 fine should result in a criminal record.

“Significant concerns” about the validity of the fines, the inadequacy of the review and appeal process, the size of the penalties and the criminalisation of those who cannot afford to pay were set out in a report.