Man fined for lockdown birthday garden drink wants his money back after Downing Street scandal
A man who was fined for having three friends in his garden for his birthday during lockdown last year wants his money back after ITV News revealed an email inviting Downing Street staff to a garden party in lockdown.
Kieron McArdle, from Coleshill in Warwickshire, invited three friends to sit with him outside in his garden on his birthday on 19 March last year. He says they only planned to stay for an hour.
When the police heard about the breach of the rules they turned up at Kieron's house and he was fined £100.
He paid the fine, admitting that what he did was wrong. However, following reports of parties in Downing Street during lockdown, he is now calling for the Government to refund him – and anyone else who was fined during lockdown.
"At the time, I was happy to pay the fine and accept that what we did was wrong but over the last few weeks as more and more of these stories come out and it just makes me so angry and I feel like we're being taken for fools," he said.
He adds: "I expect the same for them as it was for us. To be read their rights and fined, so that it's a level playing field. If that's not to happen, I would like my money reimbursed.
"If I did get it reimbursed, I don't think I will, but if I did then I would donate it to the charity Mind who has helped people with their mental health during lockdown," he added.
The revelation of the Downing Street party was confirmed in an email obtained by ITV News - where staff were invited "to make the most of the lovely weather" and to "bring your own booze!"
The email was sent by the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to over a hundred employees in Number 10, including the Prime Minister's advisors, speechwriters and door staff.
ITV News understands around 40 staff gathered in the garden that evening, eating picnic food and drinking.
They included the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Johnson.
The email sent by the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to over a hundred Number 10 employees said:
"After what has been an incredibly busy period we thought it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
"Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!"
ITV News understands that the drinks party on May 20 will form part of the ongoing investigations, with the inquiry due to report back this month.
Downing Street told ITV News they would not comment on the story due to the Sue Gray inquiry.
Since then, families in the Midlands have reacted about the drinks party.
A mum who buried her son with only 10 people allowed to attend his funeral says she wants Mr Johnson to resign.
Louise Bennett's 14-year-old son Fred died from leukaemia in May 2020 - and his funeral took place under strict Covid restrictions just six days before the alleged drinks party.
Ms Bennett, who is from Warwickshire, told ITV News Central: "I don't understand how they think they can tell us what to do anymore when it's been so clear they have not obeyed the rules."
She said her son's death was made infinitely more difficult by the amount of Covid restrictions at the height of lockdown.