A pub landlord is facing £6,000 in fines after 'council spies' saw a punter allegedly breaking lockdown rules by standing up to take a sip of lager – while playing beer pong.
Ian Snowball, 62, who runs sports bar Showtime with his son Adam, 36, claims a local council has a “vendetta” against him and plans to challenge the 'pedantic' fine in court.
The alleged rule-breaking took place in June last year - two months after parties were reportedly held at Downing street - when pubs had to stick to strict lockdown protocols.
As the government guidance stated at the time, "When consuming food and drink people should remain seated and take steps to minimise any risk of infection."
But in papers served on Ian and his son, the council claims they broke health and safety law - by letting the man drink from a paper cup while standing up to play the bar game.
The pair were previously fined £1,000 for breaching lockdown protocols, for having customers on their premises in Huddersfield, West Yorks, after 10:00 pm in November 2020.
Now that Ian, Adam and their company all face fines for a second time, that figure may double, meaning they could be charged £2000 each if they lose their case.
Ian called the fine “pedantic” and branded the future court case, set to take place on Friday (April 29) at Kirklees Magistrates court, a “David v Goliath battle”.
He said: “It’s totally pedantic. The law says you are not allowed to stand up and eat and drink.
“Obviously, that’s written because they don’t want people walking around the pub, eating drinking and transmitting the virus.
“But this is a case of a person sitting down on a seat, and then on one occasion allegedly standing up, throwing a ball and drinking and then sitting down in the same seat.
“They haven’t moved, but the difference is, they’re said to stand up to drink at that seat.
Ian, who has helped run the city centre pub since 2016, explained that the events surrounding the reported indiscretion dated back to the evening of June 25, 2021.
He claimed council execs had peered through the pub's window that night, where they spied the alleged rule-breaking taking place at a specially designed beer pong table.
He said: “What happened was, from their side, they came and looked through the window and saw some people standing playing beer pong.
“At that time, it was unlawful to allow people to stand up and eat or drink, but beer pong is played in a plastic cup and there’s a tiny little drink in it, and you throw the ball.
“Then they also go on in their evidence to say there were seven people at the table when at that time you were only allowed six.”
However, Ian claims he has CCTV evidence that proves this didn’t happen, which he plans to show in court when he takes on the council on Friday.
He said: “We’ve got probably the most advanced CCTV system in the UK of any live venue, so every single thing is recorded.
"Your temperature is recorded, the number of people who are in the pub is recorded and your movements are recorded.
“And when we’ve checked it, we can see quite clearly no one stood to drink while playing the game.”
Ian said that no other business in Huddersfield has been hit with multiple fines for breaking Covid protocols, and believes the council has a “vendetta” against him.
He claims this started when he undertook work to improve a road at the back of his property, which the council planners later told him to halt.
He said: “We call it a vendetta against me, against Ian Snowball.
“We’ve got a little bit of a battle going on with the council, whereby there’s a road running at the back which is derelict.
"It belongs to them, but when we first came here, which was in 2016, we went to see the council and told them that the road was a state and it was unsafe.
“At that meeting, the lady who was there from planning said, “We don’t have the money to do it, but go ahead and do it yourself.”
“So we spent tens of thousands of pounds on new cobbles and new York stone for the path and started doing all the work.
“Then along came a man from the council who own it and said you don’t have our permission to do that – and were then left in limbo.
He added: “It’s kind of been constantly ongoing.”
Ian said he had approved of how Boris Johnson handled the pandemic but agreed that there was “one rule for politicians and another for local people”.
He said: “There is and there always has been and there always will be.
“It’s a privilege of the wealthy, and people in those positions are always treated differently – and the council is one of those people.”
When asked for comment, Colin Parr, Strategic Director for Environment and Climate Change at Kirklees council said: "When Covid-19 restrictions were in place, they were there to keep us all safe.
"And we thank the vast majority of businesses who worked really hard to make sure these rules were followed at all times, playing a key part in reducing Covid-19 transmission.
"We do not want to prosecute any local business, but any breach of these restrictions has to be taken incredibly seriously in the interests of public safety, irrespective of when they took place.
"In this case some restrictions were not followed and subsequent fines were issued to the owners, which remain unpaid, resulting in the prosecution."