Shop owner convicted and fined £35,000 for staying open during lockdown wins appeal
Alasdair Walker-Cox has been fined £35,000 after refusing to close Grace Cards & Books in Droitwich during lockdown because he claimed he was exempt due to the sale of food and certain publications
Image: Tristan Potter/SWNS)
A card shop owner fined £35,000 for opening during lockdown has won his appeal against the huge sentence.
Alasdair Walker-Cox, who runs Grace Cards & Books in Droitwich, was found guilty of breaking lockdown rules at Kidderminster Magistrates Court last August.
It remained open during lockdown in February 2021 because it claimed the store was exempt from rules covering non-essential stores due to the sale of food and certain 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 store open in a video widely shared on social media at the time.
Authorities have fined the company four times over its stance, with Mr Walker-Cox found guilty of breaching lockdown rules at trial and fined £35,000 on top of his 9 £000 legal costs.
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 that there was a lack of guidance from local authorities and that he was a man of good character who had not acted out of “dishonesty”.
Asked about his alleged ‘fierce opposition’ to the lockdown rules by the prosecution, Mr Walker-Cox told the court: ‘I would say I disagree with them, yes.
At his trial last year, prosecutors alleged he had “very little regard” for the covid rules in place at the time.
But he told the appeal hearing that some of his employees wore masks and that he had not “made political comments in the media” about coronavirus regulations.
He also argued on Friday that the store sold a small number of food items, such as cake supplies, and could therefore be classified as an essential business.
“Either you 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 buy the ingredients for the cake.”
Alasdair Walker-Cox / SWNS)
He said the lockdowns were “difficult times” and the coronavirus rules were “open to interpretation”.
He added: ‘We will not criticize the local authority for bringing this case.
The decision means that the conviction and huge fine have been overturned.
Reacting to the decision, Mr Walker-Cox told WorcestershireLive it was a ‘tremendous weight’ that was slipping away from him.
“It’s been a stressful 18 months but in the end it was worth the fight,” he said.
“I’m absolutely thrilled – there are so many people to thank and we’ll bypass them all, but especially Josh, Harry and Peter from Resolve Law.”