Owner of Billingham pub The Porky Pint wants Covid fines scrapped following Sue Gray report

Paul Henderson, left, says fairness is lacking from "law in this country" after Sue Gray's report was published alongside 'partygate' pictures. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees/Sue Gray report

A pub owner punished for breaking Covid-19 restrictions has called for fines and other sanctions to be scrapped following the publication of the Sue Gray report.

Paul Henderson, who owns The Porky Pint in Billingham, was stripped of his licence to sell alcohol after opening during lockdown in January 2021 as part of the so-called "Great Reopening" protests.

The pub also served visitors during the tiered restrictions of November 2020.

Senior civil servant Sue Gray's investigation into Number 10 parties has confirmed that Boris Johnson attended a rule-breaking leaving do that same month.

The Prime Minister had previously been fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending his 56th birthday celebration, along with his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Senior leadership at Number 10 was heavily criticised in the report, which said they must "bear responsibility" for the party culture in Downing Street allowed to flourish by leadership failures.

The Prime Minister was pictured raising a glass on November 13 2020. Credit: ITV News

Mr Henderson fears he may have to leave his job due to the losing of his licence.

He told ITV News Tyne Tees he was outraged that those who made the rules do not face similarly severe consequences.

"One of the things that makes us all British and proud to the greatest extent is that sense of fairness," he added.

"Having one rule for people in power and another rule for everyone else is not fair and it’s certainly not just and it’s not what the law in this country is all about."

The pub owner was punished by Stockton Council's licensing sub-committee, finding he had committed "extremely serious" breaches given the thousands of lives lost in the pandemic.

An appeal to overturn the decision at Teesside Magistrates' Court failed in March - with Mr Henderson vowing to take his licence fight to the High Court.

Following the latest 'partygate' developments, he is fighting for all Covid-19 related punishments to be scrapped.

He said: "It should be put back to the way it should have been, had people not had to endure the last two years in terms of criminal fines or civil fines and prosecutions.

"That’s the fair thing to be done now."

The Prime Minister said he took "full responsibility" for the rule-breaking which took place on his watch - but defended himself by saying he was not present for a number of the illegal gatherings, and resisted calls to resign.

Boris Johnson also insisted he has always been honest to the Commons with his denials of law-breaking, saying he believed at the time that the rules had always been followed in government.

Mr Johnson apologised but sought to downplay the significance of Covid breaches in government and his role in them.

He told MPs: "Over a period of 600 days, gatherings on a total of eight days have been found in breach of regulations."

Seeking to explain his role in attending some events, he said part of his leadership duty is to "recognise them and thank" staff when they are leaving government.

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