Let-off for Met police who broke Covid drinking rules

More than six officers could be seen sitting together on the CCTV before violence broke out  (.)
More than six officers could be seen sitting together on the CCTV before violence broke out (.)

Metropolitan police officers will not face Covid fines despite video evidence appearing to show the “rule of six” was flouted on a night out in the City of London.

CCTV footage from inside the Be At One bar in King William Street, Monument, shows officers including sergeants and an acting inspector drinking on July 2 last year.

Pubs, bars and restaurants had been allowed to reopen six weeks earlier, but Covid restrictions limiting venues to tables of six people — known as the rule of six — were still in force. A trial at Westminster magistrates’ court heard staff complained to the officers about flouting the rule but were met with demands that they “lighten up”.

After a sergeant accepted in the witness box that more than six officers could be seen sitting together on the CCTV, District Judge Briony Clarke said it was “clear” that Covid rules had been broken.

The night out ended with one of the officers, Pc Luke Wilson, headbutting the bar managerJohnny White, leading to him being given a 10-week suspended prison sentence for assault.

City of London police said it had considered the evidence of alleged Covid rule-breaking but decided not to act on it.

“The evidence led us to investigate the offences of common assault and battery,” said chief superintendent Steve Heatley.

Evidence was then presented in court outlining that the victim feared a Covid-19 breach in the bar he was managing that evening.

“He spoke to the defendant about this, which led to the defendant assaulting the victim. No further action was taken in connection with the alleged breach of Covid restrictions.”

The Met said Pc Wilson remains on restricted duties pending a misconduct hearing, while claims of Covid rule-breaking are being looked at in an “ongoing investigation”.

Bar manager Mr White told Wilson’s trial that some of the officers flashed their warrant cards when arriving at the bar, and staff realised it was a group of up to 25 people who knew each other.

“They started switching places, switching seats to be with friends,” he said. “We spent quite a lot of the night running around the venue, asking people to return to their seats.”

When he spotted a bottle of prosecco being ordered with eight glasses, Mr White went to confront a group of officers, shortly before he was headbutted by Wilson.

Sergeant Ryan Snadden looked at the CCTV of the incident in court, saying the group were “fully aware of the rules” but accepting more than six of them had sat together.

Thousands of Londoners were issued with fines during the pandemic for attending parties, breaking the rule of six, leaving home during lockdown and flouting quarantine rules.