Gym owner facing £55,000 legal bill for lockdown breaches slams £50 Boris and Rishi penalties

A gym owner facing a bill of more than £55,000 after being found guilty of Covid breaches has slammed the £50 fine handed to Boris Johnson.

By Kevin Clark
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 4:56 pm

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The Prime Minister, wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are among 50 people to be served with fixed penalty notices as part of a Metropolitan Police investigation into a dozen alleged gatherings in Downing Street during lockdown.

East Durham businessman Edmund “Eddy” Ellwood was convicted of four offences relating to the use of Xtreme Fitness, on Hartlepool’s Longhill industrial estate, at a time when England was under strict Tier 4 restrictions.

The professional bodybuilder was fined £30,000 for the breaches and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs of £25,507 plus a £181 court surcharge.

Eddy Ellwood appears at Teesside Magistrates Court

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The sums were imposed just days before fixed penalties issued to Downing Street figures.

He had denied any wrongdoing during a trial at Teesside Magistrates Court, saying he had used his gym as the base for a support group for people whose mental health was suffering due to lockdown and wished to protest against the Government’s restrictions.

Police and a council officer said they saw people using the gym when they visited it in January and February last year.

On one occasion, a number of gym-goers were seen to run away and hide behind a vehicle.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (centre) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) with Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Giving evidence, Ellwood said he wanted to help people due to concerns over suicide among gym users during lockdown.

After being sentenced he called the case a sham and said in a statement: “There’s nothing shameful about putting another man or woman’s needs before your own.

“To punish me and compare me to what the Prime Minister had done was not even close to being on the same page.”

He said the Government’s lockdown restrictions caused “so much misery to so many, like those who were not allowed to see their loved ones before they passed”.

Ellwood, 58, whose address was listed on courts document as his gym, added: "This was cruel and inhuman but those who caused this immense public suffering got fined only £50-£100.

"Partying was not essential and broke all their hypocritical rules.

"There has been too many false apologies and uncovered lies. The trust in this government, its local authorities, its police and legal system has gone.“People have had enough and we want justice.”