Police who broke up wedding attended by 150 people at a north London school said the event was a ‘deeply disturbing’ breach of lockdown rules as it emerged it’s not the first time it has been used for events during the coronavirus pandemic.
Met Police officers said organisers of the wedding, held at Yesoday Hatorah Girls Senior School in Stamford Hill, covered the windows to stop people seeing in.
Many of the guests fled as officers raided the venue on Thursday night, but five people were handed £200 fixed penalty notices and the organiser could face a £10,000 fine.
Police had originally reported that 400 guests were present, but later revised the number down to 150.
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the introduction of £800 fines for house parties at a Downing Street briefing on Thursday.
Watch: Fines for house parties introduced in England as restrictions tighten
Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett said: “This was a completely unacceptable breach of the law, which is very clearly in place to save lives and protect the NHS.
“An NHS that is under considerable pressure at a time when COVID-19 has killed nearly 100,000 people.
“This is a deadly and very dangerous disease. We can all see that and we must act responsibly.
“People across the country are making sacrifices by cancelling or postponing weddings and other celebrations and there is no excuse for this type of behaviour.
“My officers are working tirelessly with the community and we will not hesitate to take enforcement action if that is required to keep people safe.”
The mayor of Hackney in north London said school had been used for similar events during the pandemic.
Speaking to BBC News, mayor Philip Glanville said: “It’s a deeply disturbing incident at a time when in Hackney we have seen the largest number of deaths reported since last April.
“Unfortunately, similar events have taken place even at this venue before and we need to be really clear how unacceptable it is.”
On Thursday Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that fines of £800 will be handed to people caught at house parties of over 15 people, doubling after each offence up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offenders.
She said: “The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health.
“Not only to those in attendance but to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.
“As this latest measure demonstrates, we will not stand by while a small number of individuals put others at risk.”
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown