A tattoo artist has been ordered to pay £1,000 for remaining open during lockdown.
Aron Walton refused to close his Holey Skin parlour in the Bishopston area of Bristol after restrictions were imposed on November 5.
He was visited multiple times by police but said he did ‘not consent’ to the new law and does not ‘accept it’.
Just before lockdown came into effect, Walton posted a video on social media, claiming ‘we will remain open throughout’ and ‘now is the time for action’. In another clip he suggested throwing a party on the day restrictions began.
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The artist kept his studio open for more than a week, until Bristol City Council and police used a locksmith to force their way in on Friday.
Senior environmental health officer Heather Clarke handed Mr Walton a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 and seized six pieces of tattooing equipment.
A council spokesman said it came after ‘persistent breaches of Covid-19 rules despite repeated requests to comply’.
He said: ‘Council enforcement officers, supported by officers from Avon and Somerset Police entered the business on Friday following a breach of a prohibition notice and receipt of a warrant from the courts.
‘Prior to this officers had repeatedly asked the owner to comply with Covid-19 regulations, issuing the prohibition notice after attempts to negotiate with the business failed.’
Last week Walton told a police officer he would ‘be issuing £10,000 fines for any more visits’ from the authorities.
He claimed the force had attended seven times during the ongoing lockdown.
As council enforcers and at least nine police officers tried to get into Holey Skin, Walton told the locksmith: ‘Don’t blow through the hole please, you could have Covid.’
The tattooist warned council officers he would ‘bill them for the damage’ caused to his door.
As Ms Clarke handed him the fine, he said: ‘I do not consent, I do not accept it.’
His argument appears to be rooted in the ‘freeman on the land’ conspiracy theory, whose supporters claim laws only apply to someone if they consent to them. This stance has never worked in court before.
Walton shared footage of the raid on his Instagram account on Friday evening, and has since continued to post videos, saying he does not ‘consent’ to the penalty.
When the council attended, Mr Walton protested: ‘You have no wet signature from a judge. You have no authority here. You have no jurisdiction here.
‘I stand under common law. You are committing criminal offences against me right now.’
A small group of protesters gathered outside criticising lockdown and the Government’s enforcement of it.
Walton has been a vocal member of Covid-denying conspiracy group Stand Up Bristol, describing Covid-19 as a ‘scamdemic’, and has previously filmed himself entering a shop without wearing a mask.
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: ‘A man was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace before later being de-arrested once the warrant had been completed.’
Regulatory services cabinet member Councillor Steve Pearce said: ‘I recognise the pressure businesses face right now, both those required to close during lockdown and those allowed to remain open.
‘Public health advice and Government legislation in relation to Covid-19 lockdown are in place to protect individuals and communities, not damage businesses.
‘We are working with businesses and individuals to ensure they get access to the support they are entitled to. We must however challenge behaviour that puts people at risk and will work with our partners in the police to do so where appropriate.’
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