A project manager who was given a £10,000 fine for not wearing a facemask at a Tube station has successfully had the heavy sum quashed on appeal – but still has to pay the original £200 penalty.
Sean Howson, 40, was stopped by police at Green Park station, where he was using his coat to cover his nose and mouth.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Howson was surrounded by five police officers, despite the fact that several other people at the station were not wearing masks on December 28, 2021.
In January 2022 he was served with a fixed penalty notice of £200, which he did not pay and he was subsequently fined £10,000 last July. But the judge made it clear that Howson should have paid the initial fixed penalty, and he will now have to pay that £200 fine.
Sean Howson, 40, was stopped by police at Green Park station, where he was using his coat to cover his nose and mouth, Southwark crown court heard
Tom Daniel, prosecuting, said: ‘The consequences of the pandemic were devastating for many people in this country.
‘The cost of the pandemic and of dealing with it were vast. The evidence was that face masks played a part in stemming the flow of the virus.’
Mr Howson represented himself at court to appeal against the fine.
He said: ‘I was covering both my face and my nose with a jacket. I asked them under what regulation I was being stopped. They did not answer.
‘While speaking to the officers I saw that a number of people at the station without face coverings or without face masks.
‘They said that we are dealing with you so we are not focusing on them. There were five police officers surrounding me at the time.
‘One might argue that a jacket is a type of covering.’
At Southwatk Crown Court, the £10,000 sum was dismissed but the judge made it clear that Howson should have paid the initial fixed penalty. He will now have to pay that £200 fine
Mr Howson added: ‘I am not known to any legal system, nor have I ever been in any issue with the law.
‘I have no charges at all in relation to Coronavirus regulations. I have members of my family who have been struck down by Covid.’
Mr Howson, who works as a project manager in the construction industry, said the fine was manifestly excessive.
The judge, Mr Recorder Jonathan Bellamy said: ‘We have no doubt that the appeal should be allowed.
‘The fine was manifestly excessive.’
In June 2020, the government introduced regulations that required people to wear face coverings on public transport and in indoor settings such as shops.
In January 2021, just under 1,000 people had been fined for not wearing face masks in England and Wales.
Figures suggest that black, Asian and ethnic minority men were disproportionately targeted with fines for not wearing face coverings.
Mr Howson, of Cobham, Surrey, faced one count of entering or remaining in a relevant place without a face covering.
According to his LinkedIn profile he works in project management at GVA Second London Wall and gained a BSc Honors from the University of Brighton and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) from the University of Reading.