Shop owner convicted and fined £35,000 for staying open during lockdown wins appeal


Alasdair Walker-Cox was fined £35,000 after refusing to close Grace Cards & Books in Droitwich during lockdown because he claimed it was exempt due to selling food and certain publications

Alasdair Walker-Cox, 54, pictured beside wife Lydia, 50, was fined £35,000 for keeping his card shop open during lockdown
Alasdair Walker-Cox, 54, pictured beside wife Lydia, 50, was fined £35,000 for keeping his card shop open during lockdown

A card shop owner fined £35,000 for opening during lockdown has won his appeal against the huge penalty.

Alasdair Walker-Cox, who runs Grace Cards & Books in Droitwich, was convicted of breaching lockdown rules at Kidderminster Magistrates Court last August.

He remained open during lockdown in February 2021 because he claimed the store was exempt from rules covering non-essential shops due to selling food and some publications, Birmingham Live reports.

Mr Walker-Cox’s wife Lydia was seen challenging a council official and a police officer over their decision to keep the shop open in a video widely circulated on social media at the time.

Authorities fined the business four times over its stance, with Mr Walker-Cox being convicted of breaching lockdown rules at trial and fined £35,000 on top of his £9,000 court costs.

In a video shared widely on social media, Alasdair’s wife was seen challenging a council official and police officer over their decision
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Image:

Alasdair Walker-Cox/SWNS)

But he won his appeal against his conviction and sentence at Worcester Crown Court on Friday, February 25.

His defense argued there was a dearth of advice from the local authorities and he was a man of good character who had not acted out of ‘dishonesty’.

Asked about his alleged ‘staunch opposition’ of the lockdown rules by the prosecution, Mr Walker-Cox told the court: “I would say I disagreed with them, yeah.”

At his trial last year, prosecutors alleged he had “very little regard” for covid rules in place at the time.

Alasdair’s lawyer told the court about his previous good character, but he was still fined the enormous sum
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Image:

Tristan Potter/SWNS)

But he told the appeal hearing some of his staff wore masks and he had not ‘made political comments in the media’ about coronavirus regulations.

He also argued on Friday that the shop sold a small number of food products, such as cake supplies, and so could be classed as an essential business.

“You either sell food or you don’t sell food,” he said.

“If you want a sandwich, you go out and buy a sandwich. If you want a cake, you go and buy cake ingredients.”

Alasdair argued that he was allowed to remain open because he sold food products, such as cake supplies
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Image:

Alasdair Walker-Cox/SWNS)

He said the lockdowns were ‘difficult times’ and the coronavirus rules were ‘open to interpretation’.

I added: “We won’t criticize the local authority for bringing this case.”

The decision means both the conviction and huge fine have been overturned.

Reacting to the ruling, Mr Walker-Cox told Worcestershire Live it was a ‘huge weight’ off his mind.

“It’s been 18 months of stress but ultimately it was worth the fight,” he said.

“I’m absolutely delighted – there are so many people to thank and we will get round them all but particularly Josh, Harry and Peter at Resolve Law.”

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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