A hair salon that caused “distress to the public” by staying open despite England’s coronavirus lockdown has been told to shut.
Quinn Blakey Hairdressing in Oakeshaw, Bradford, made headlines after its owner Sinead Quinn accrued £17,000 in fixed penalty notices from Kirklees Council.
A document referring to Magna Carta was left in the business’s window, and the court heard she had referenced the medieval text to council officers.
Hairdressers have been required to shut, and on Monday Bradford Magistrates Court ordered it to be closed until after lockdown ends just after midnight on Wednesday.
Quinn did not appear at the court, which heard she had been seen serving customers on six days during lockdown and that a number of complaints were made about the business.
Tahir Hanif, for the council, said she refused to open the door to engage with enforcement officers, mentioned Magna Carta and told officers that coronavirus law “does not apply to her and she does not consent to abide by these particular regulations”.
He said the business’s Instagram page had recordings of conversations with officers “which received notoriety” and that the fixed penalty notices “seemed to have no impact”, with Quinn being given a “final opportunity” to comply last week.
Hanif added that the application – the timing of which was questioned by chair of the bench Rebecca Todd, given the national lockdown’s end on Wednesday – was a “last resort” after the council tried to engage with Quinn.
The council concluded that a “message had to be sent that this type of behaviour will not be acceptable”, Hanif told the court.
Todd said: “While we still have real concerns regarding the timing of this application, we are satisfied on balance that the order is necessary.
“We think it is necessary to prevent nuisance to members of the public and to safeguard public health.
“She is continuing in her behaviour, which is causing distress to the public in an already stressful and disturbing time.”
The closure order could see anyone using the premises be arrested and fined or jailed for up to 51 weeks.
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Councillor Paul Davies, Kirklees Council cabinet member for culture, said: “The actions taken by this business owner, and those who have given her custom during this period, have been illegal, selfish and reckless.
“The business owner has wilfully endangered herself, her customers, the wider community and our staff.
“We don’t want to fine our businesses or take action like this against them, particularly after such a difficult year.
“However, we have given this business every opportunity to do the right thing and public health must come first. We have been left with no choice.”
Magna Carta defence “no longer exists”
There are a number of examples on social media of business owners referring to Magna Carta when police arrive to enforce coronavirus laws.
Magna Carta was an agreement between King John and rebel barons made in 1215 that limited the monarchy’s power.
Businesses have relied on chapter 61 of that text, but anonymous legal commentator and author the Secret Barrister wrote that it has no chance of standing up in court.
They wrote that chapter 61 allowed the barons to “distrain upon and assail” the king if their agreement was breached, but it was “only granted to those 25 barons” and people sworn to them, not the general population.
“And secondly, and fatally for this argument, Magna Carta 1215 was declared void by the Pope within a year,” the commentator added.
“It was reissued several times, in various forms, but Chapter 61 was never revived. Indeed, out of the 63 chapters that appeared in the 1215 Magna Carta, only four are still in force today, the remainder having been repealed over the centuries.
“So in short, Chapter 61 no longer exists, and even when it did, it didn’t give a general right to dissent or rebellion.”
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