Piers Corbyn held rally during lockdown where Covid called 'illusion' court told

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Piers Corbyn held rally during lockdown where Covid called 'illusion' court told

The brother of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn staged a mass rally in breach of Covid rules, with conspiracy theorist David Icke addressing a crowd of hundreds, a court has heard. Piers Corbyn, 75, along with Louise Creffield, 35, and Vincent Dunmall, 55, organized the August 29, 2020 Trafalgar Square protest, as well as three similar gatherings in September, October and November this year, judges were told.

Corbyn alone is accused of holding another gathering on New Year’s Eve 2020. The rallies breached Covid regulations in place at the time, which prevented people from gathering in large groups, Westminster Magistrates Court has been told.

Iestyn Morgan, prosecutor, said: “The three defendants are accused of breaching public health regulations arising from the Covid pandemic. According to prosecutors, they held a series of political meetings, each attended by more than 30 people.

“While there were risk assessments on some of these events – but the prosecution’s case is that proper steps were not taken to ensure they were compliant so they were in breach of regulations.”

Mr Morgan told the court: “Holding a meeting is not defined in the legislation. It is a question for the court to decide what participation means.

“Clearly there is more to holding than participating, but prosecutors say it is noteworthy that the word organizing is not used. Holding is not the same. The question for the court is whether these defendants had a reasonable excuse.”

Ahead of the first event on August 29, 2020, Corbyn was working with police officers and Mr Morgan said it was clear he was taking a leadership role. At the event itself, Corbyn gave a speech and Creffield and Dunmall were also present on the stage.

Mr Morgan said: “Prosecutors say this is evidence they held the event. The risk assessment for this event was insufficient. This means the event was not exempt from rules preventing large gatherings.”

CCTV footage played in court showed a crowd of hundreds cheering as David Icke also took the stage, where he said: “What a joy it is to head towards an island of sanity in a world of madness look.”

Icke also claimed that the spread of Covid-19, which has killed more than 190,000 people in the UK, is an “illusion pandemic”. Daytime recordings of police officers were also played, showing Corbyn’s arrest. Supporters can be heard shouting “fascists” and “shame on you”.

In a social media post released after the rally, Corbyn described himself as the “official organizer”. He also encouraged his supporters to attend the following September 26 rally where the group wanted to pressure MPs to scrap the Coronavirus Act 2020. Mr Morgan said that on December 18 police sent a copy of the assessment to Veronica Schultz, a health and safety officer, adviser to Westminster City Council. She told the court: “I looked at the email and then compared it to the risk assessments we had on our system.

“We have seven risk assessments from other events. They were made available by Mr Corbyn as organiser. These seven contained all the elements of a risk assessment. They included controls that this event did not have.”

She added that to herself and her colleagues it was not a risk assessment at all, they just described it as an “information document”.

“It should include elements of social distancing, precautions in case of overcrowding and a communication strategy between the organizers and the participants.

“We would look at the marshals who should be communicating with the participants to make sure people aren’t crowding together in large groups and screaming and sneezing in each other’s faces. They said the risk was low, but the explanation is based on personal and highly speculative views. It is not based on any true statement that could be called fact.”

Mr Morgan said the risk assessments for the other events were considered reasonable. Corbyn, from Elephant and Castle in south-east London, is denying five charges of holding a meeting and five charges of attending a public meeting of more than 30 people.

Creffield, of Brighton, East Sussex, and Dunmall, of Orpington, south-east London, are denying four charges of holding a meeting and four charges of attending a public meeting of more than 30 people.

The process goes on.

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