Covid-19: Droitwich card shop owners guilty of flouting lockdown rules

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Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox
Image caption,
Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox repeatedly refused to close Grace Cards and Books

The owners of a card shop who repeatedly refused to close during coronavirus lockdowns have been fined more than £35,000.

The owners of Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcestershire, argued their shop qualified for exemption because they sold sweets and soft drinks.

During lockdowns, rules stated shops had to shut unless they sold essential goods and services.

A district judge called the owners' reasoning a "fig leaf".

Alasdair and Lydia Walker-Cox were ordered to pay fines totalling £35,000 after being found guilty at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court.

They will also have to pay legal costs of just under £9,000 and a victim surcharge of £190.

The pair had denied their store in St Andrews Square breached the rules between November and December 2020 and February and March 2021.

Speaking to the BBC in November last year, Mr Walker-Cox said they were defying the rules "on principle" and risked going out of business if they closed.

His wife said at the time: "We have a God-given right to earn an honest living."

District judge Ian Strongman said while he had listened to their argument about how they should be treated like newsagents, he could not interpret the coronavirus lockdown rules that way.

He said the sale of Christian publications and, later, some national newspapers, did not give them the same exemptions.

The couple were handed five fixed penalty notices by Wychavon District Council, costing between £1,000 and £10,000 which they were ordered to pay by magistrates.

The local authority said they had "blatantly flouted the rules" and their actions posed a "public health risk".

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