‘Oxford is not in Wales’: Teenager wrongly convicted in England under Wales’ coronavirus legislation

The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford. Picture by Diliff (CC BY 2.5).

A teenager in Oxford was wrongly convicted and sentenced – under coronavirus legislation that only applies to Wales.

Lewis Brown, 18, was arrested by Thames Valley Police after visiting his vulnerable mother to give her money, the Times reported.

But the officers charged him with offences under paragraph 67 of the Coronavirus Act, which only relates to potentially infectious people in Wales.

The teenager pleaded guilty when he appeared at Oxford magistrates’ court on April 20, two days after his arrest. District judge Kamlesh Rana fined him £100 and ordered him to pay £119 in a victim surcharge and costs. 

The case was highlighted in a report by Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties group, to draw attention to a case in which coronavirus emergency powers have been used incorrectly.

Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, said to the Times: “We have seen police misinterpret the [Coronavirus legislation] and enforce them unnecessarily harshly. This punitive approach has alienated and alarmed members of the public, eroded trust in authorities, sown confusion and undermined the rule of law.”

Kirsty Brimelow QC, who has analysed such cases of wrongful conviction, said: “This seems to be another example of misuse of police powers, wrongful prosecution and unlawful conviction.

“For good measure, not only has the wrong law been used but the wrong law for the wrong country. The section charged and prosecuted relates to Wales. As far as I know, Wales has not expanded during the lockdown to include Oxford.

“It is clear that these cases are not outliers and the director of public prosecutions and district judges need to get a grip on the current trend of casual criminalisation of people.”

 

‘Withdrawn’

Thames Valley Police confirmed they had incorrectly charged Mr Brown and the case would be withdrawn.

A spokesman said: “Our officers are out in our communities protecting the public and the NHS by engaging, explaining, and encouraging members of the public to abide with the government guidance. However, where they have seen non-compliance they have looked to use enforcement.

“We can confirm that in this instance Mr Brown was arrested and incorrectly charged under the Coronavirus Act and was convicted after he pleaded guilty to the offence. The Crown Prosecution Service is currently reviewing this case with a view to it being withdrawn.

“Any new legislation brings its own challenges, especially when operating in such challenging times and our officers and staff will continue to work tirelessly to protect the public by helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus.”

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atanu sinhaJohn EllisCeriJ RobertsMawkernewek Recent comment authors
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Mawkernewek
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add this one to Welsh Duolingo:
Dydy Rhydychen ddim yng Nghymru.

John Evans
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John Evans

Ahh but for how long? when Oxford finally joins the union of the free Cymru.

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

I was told I was ambitious when I suggested annexing some of the border towns and cities like CroesOswallt, Amythig, Henffordd and other southern lands to the Severn like the Forest of Dean. Now the local PlodForce, T.V.P no less, want to extend our jurisdiction across to Rhydychen. Very accommodating of them. Diolch yn fawr. Maybe there are communities of Saeson over there who see great benefit in dumping the London centric and switching their allegiance.

Mawkernewek
Guest

It would have reverted to the Catuvellauni after the Romans left, whose territory didn’t reach as far as Wales.

However the Catuvellauni leader Caratacus was exiled to the lands of the Ordovices at one point before the Battle of Caer Caradoc.

Ceri
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Ceri

Just you lot wait! We Silures are bound to take power and take our place as the dominant tribe in Britannia! 😉

John Ellis
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John Ellis

Can’t see that going down to well with the Ordovices and the Deceangeli!

Even the Cornovii might not be too ecstatic …

J Roberts
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J Roberts

Sadly this isn’t a unique case. There are numerous unpublished cases where authorities or courts are applying Welsh law in England or (and this is the usual) English law in Wales. It’s a real issue with having a joint jurisdiction. Fine you could split them, but in the short term, the Assembly and Welsh Government ought to think about compiling a staute book for Wales – to help authourities and courts. The
Assembly and Government aren’t making it easy for them

John Ellis
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John Ellis

So not only the police but the CPS and, presumably, the district judge himself misapprehended the law. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?! It seems the English establishment still can’t really get its head round devolution, even after more than twenty years of it.

Still, there’s a bright side to this story: after over four hundred years of Wales being subject to ‘English law’, I suppose it does make a nice change to contemplate English folk in England being subjected to Welsh law!

atanu sinha
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atanu sinha

Someone need to ask the integrity of this judge. She is always in the headline for wrong reason