Pub lockdown breach in Billingham loses High Court appeal

Pint of Porky

After a two-year legal battle, a pub that had its license revoked for operating during a coronavirus lockdown was unsuccessful.

In an effort to draw attention to the Covid-19 restrictions, Paul Henderson frequently opened the Porky Pint in Billingham.

His permit to serve alcohol was revoked by Stockton Council, and the High Court has now upheld that decision.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has contacted Mr. Henderson, who has been mandated to pay nearly £11,000 in costs, for comment.

When Stockton was under Tier 2 restrictions, with indoor meetings of two or more people prohibited except for wedding receptions of up to 15 people, complaints had been made to the council about the lack of Covid-19 control measures at the pub, according to Mr. Justice Fordham, sitting at the High Court in Leeds.

On October 30, 2020, 30 people attended a wedding reception at The Porky Pint, according to the ruling.

In addition, the court heard that it was still operating as a pub days after new Covid-19 regulations forced pubs to close and outlawed on-site food and beverage sales in November 2020.

People were seen drinking, hot food was being served, and a TV was showing sports as a licensing officer entered the establishment and was asked if he would like a drink.

According to the judge, Mr. Henderson told the police that he was not required to shut down the business and that he believed track and trace and social segregation violated his human rights.

After a few days, the pub was back in business after five drunk people had been ejected by police.

The court was informed that Mr. Henderson told police he did not think there was a coronavirus. In spite of a prohibition notice, he tweeted about the pub's reopening in January 2021.

The court was informed that he expressed opinions about the government's integrity and the veracity of the pandemic to a licensing officer and expressed his disbelief in official statistics.

More than 40 letters supporting Mr. Henderson and the beloved pub were submitted to the council's licensing committee by locals and other parties.

However, in light of the thousands of lives lost due to the pandemic, the licensing panel found "extremely serious" violations and suspended his license.

In a prior appeal, Mr. Henderson was unsuccessful at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

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