Covid: Man arrested for beach outing rule breach

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image captionRadek Kotlarek said he refused to give his name to police because he did not think he had committed a crime

A man who was arrested after police suspected he had breached Covid rules by going to the beach has claimed he was strip-searched while in custody.

Radek Kotlarek, 39, from Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy, was arrested on Sunday after driving more than 20 miles to Talacre, Flintshire, with his wife and son.

Mr Kotlarek was released without charge and has not been fined for breaching Covid regulations.

North Wales Police said the officers behaved in a "calm and reasonable way".

Now posts from September and January on Mr Kotlarek's Facebook page have emerged in which he appeared to claim coronavirus was "fake".

North Wales Police said officers arrested Mr Kotlarek after he refused to give his name when they suspected he had breached coronavirus regulations.

Mr Kotlarek said he took his wife, Marta, and teenage son to the beauty spot - which is about 22 miles (35km) from their home - for a "mental break", with concerns their son was struggling in lockdown and because of the "trauma" of missing seriously ill family members in Poland.

In a video posted on social media the couple are heard telling the officers their trip was essential.

Mr Kotlarek is heard shouting "stop it" at the officers before one responds by saying: "Stop shouting at me or I will arrest you."

He is then handcuffed after telling the officer: "You are harassing us."

Ch Supt Nigel Harrison of North Wales Police said: "The person was spoken to at Talacre beach as officers reasonably suspected he had committed an offence, which in this case was a breach in coronavirus regulations.

"The man, who is from the seaside town of Rhos-on-Sea, some 22 miles away, was arrested because his details could not be ascertained at the time in order to be reported for the suspected breach."

Wales' lockdown rules state all exercise must start from home and travel must only be for essential reasons.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Kotlarek insisted he was not a "Covid-denier", despite the posts made on his Facebook account.

The public relations worker said government measures to tackle the infection were "disproportionate" and the "media narrative over-exaggerated".

He said: "It's not like I am against the vaccines, they're great, but people should be given a free will whether they want to accept it or not."

He also strongly denied he had planned the confrontation with the police.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionTalacre beach is about 22 miles (35km) from the Kotlarek family's home in Conwy

After being arrested and taken to custody in St Asaph, Mr Kotlarek claimed he was told he would be released if he gave his name, but refused to do as he believed he had not committed a crime.

"They took me to an interrogation room and said if I didn't give my name they would strip-search me," he said.

Allegations that Mr Kotlarek was strip-searched while in custody were put to the force, but it did not respond.

'Calm and reasonable'

It was only when an officer went for scissors to cut his clothes off that Mr Kotlarek claimed he voluntarily undressed and put on a paper suit he had been supplied with.

He said the incident followed recent family problems, with his wife's brother seriously ill in Poland, as well as other relatives dying.

Mr Kotlarek was released after about three hours in custody and said he was considering bringing a formal complaint against North Wales Police.

Ch Supt Harrison added: "The officers behaved in a calm and reasonable way as I would have expected.

"As is always the case, if the individual wishes to query or complain about the way they were treated then of course we will review the full circumstances."