Dolores Cahill fined by UK court over London anti-lockdown protest

The academic helped organise a demonstration in London's Trafalgar Square, which was described as a "flagrant breach" of Covid restrictions.
Dolores Cahill fined by UK court over London anti-lockdown protest

William Janes, PA

Dolores Cahill has been fined £2,500 (€2,950) for holding an anti-lockdown protest in the UK, in “flagrant breach” of Covid restrictions, a court has heard.

The 55-year-old former professor at University College Dublin (UCD) helped organise a demonstration involving around 1,000 people at London's Trafalgar Square for the activist group Stand Up X, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday.

At the time, on September 19th, 2020, gatherings of more than 30 were prohibited in the UK unless organised by a political body with a risk assessment in place, the court heard.

Statements from police officers and body-worn footage presented at Cahill’s trial revealed she had not submitted a risk assessment to police or Westminster City Council ahead of the demonstration.

District Judge Michael Oliver found her guilty of one charge of holding a gathering of more than 30 people on land in public outdoor place during the emergency period.

He determined her weekly income to be £2,000 (€2,360) and ordered she pay a fine of £2,500 along with a £190 (€225) surcharge and prosecution costs of £625 (€740).

Culpability

He said: “I am satisfied so that I am sure that Ms Cahill was involved in the holding of this gathering.

“It doesn’t seem to me any of the exemptions in place at the time were met in this case. Ms Cahill’s position from the footage appears to have vacillated from that there was a risk assessment on a laptop to that it could be submitted retrospectively.

“It seems to me that the defendant’s culpability is high. This was flagrant breach of the regulations that were put in place to ensure public safety at the time of a national emergency – a pandemic.

“The measures were plainly for a good reason – to protect people. There were plainly far more people than 30 present at this protest and the evidence suggests about 1,000 people.

“Plainly, there was risk of harm to people attending and to others at the risk of transmission of Covid.”

The court also heard how Cahill, of Ranelagh, Dublin, a former chair of the Irish Freedom Party, had previously been handed a £10,000 (€11,800) fixed penalty notice but “did not answer it”.

The judge was told how she had also been sent the evidence which was to be used against her and summoned to court on multiple occasions but had not attended or entered a plea, so the trial was held in her absence.

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