Police Fined Britons Paying Respects at Terror Attack Memorial

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, gathers with other relatives of the victims of the attacks in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral in Birmingham, central England, on February 25, 2019, before attending the opening day of the inquest. - Long-awaited inquests into the deaths …
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

An English police force fined six people for taking part in a memorial to the 21 Britons killed in the 1974 IRA terror attack in Birmingham.

The JUSTICE4the21 campaign took part in a convoy on November 21st, 2020, for the 46th anniversary of the Birmingham Pub Bombings to remember the IRA terror attacks at The Mulberry Bush and The Tavern In The Town bars which claimed 21 lives and resulted in the injury of over 200 others. Hundreds of people took part in the convoy, which organisers said would abide by social distancing rules.

A spokesman for the law firm representing J4the21 said in a statement, reported by BirminghamLive on Thursday, that after the Convoy of Remembrance terminated outside of the West Midlands Police Headquarters, Lloyd House, some people began to gather. One of the campaigners, Julie Hambleton, “went to the small gathering who were wearing masks and distancing appropriately, to assist in the immediate dispersal and to thank them for taking time out of their busy lives to support the act of remembering”.

As a result, police issued Ms Hambilton and five others “six penalty notices on the basis that the convoy and the meeting breached the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020,” the statement continued, adding: “Failure to pay the penalty could lead to prosecution.”

The spokesman also said that J4the21 had even worked with the police force on planning the event to minimise disruption to traffic and ensure people abided by coronavirus laws.

Ms Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the attacks, has said that she will not pay the £200 fine.

The campaigner said: “My summons talks about ‘without having a reasonable excuse,’ implying I have done something wrong by remembering my sister who was blown up in the biggest unsolved mass murder in criminal history.

“It says I must pay a £200 fixed penalty notice which is reduced to £100 if I pay in 14 days.

“But I haven’t done anything wrong and to pay up would be to imply I accept guilt and that I have done something wrong to the memory of my loved one.”

The force has said that it will refuse to revoke the fines.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd claimed that the fines were “proportionate and necessary in these circumstances” and the incident would be progressed as usual through the “standard criminal justice proceedings”.

Several British police forces have been criticised for their zeal in fining citizens for alleged breaches of lockdown since the laws came into effect in March 2020.

In another incident this week, two women who wanted to go for a walk in the countryside found themselves surrounded by police and issued with £200 fines.

Derbyshire Police claimed that the women driving a mere five miles to a nature reserve to get some gentle exercise was “not in the spirit of lockdown” because they are only allowed to be out in the “local area”, according to a BBC report. The broadcaster contacted the Home Office, Cabinet Office, National Police Chief’s Council, and the College of Policing, and none could give a definitive answer of what “local” means.

The women were also told that the hot drinks they were carrying to keep themselves warm on their chilly winter walk were not allowed because they constituted a “picnic”.

Jessica Allen described pulling up to park at Foremark Reservoir and seeing “a police van, a police car” and “loads of police”. She first assumed that there had been a murder, but “the next thing, my car is surrounded. I got out of my car thinking ‘There’s no way they’re coming to speak to us’. Straight away they start questioning us.

“One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ‘This must be a joke’.

“I said we had come in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us. He said ‘You can’t do that as it’s classed as a picnic’.”

Derbyshire Police is the same force that last year dumped black ink in a lagoon in a beauty spot to deter swimmers and stalked dog walkers with drones.

Speaking at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, QC, condemned Derbyshire police, likening the actions to a “police state”.

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