Northern Ireland

High Court quashes covid fine after ruling police were not legally entitled to enter woman’s home

The woman issued proceedings against the PSNI following an incident in 2020

Mr Justice Humphreys delivered judgment at Belfast High Court
(Liam McBurney/PA)

Police were not legally entitled to enter a woman’s home in east Belfast to issue a fine for an alleged breach of Covid-19 regulations, the High Court ruled on Thursday.

Senior judges declared that the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) issued to Klara Kozubikova was unlawful and is to be quashed.

Ms Kozubikova, a Czech national, issued proceedings against the PSNI following an incident at the home she was sharing back in December 2020.

At the time restrictions on gatherings were in place due to the ongoing pandemic.

Officers allegedly took the details of all adults present at the Downshire Park Central address and issued FPNs under the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) Regulations NI 2020.

Ms Kozubikova did not pay the £200 fine and faced enforcement proceedings.

She claimed the PSNI did not have the legal power to enter her home.

Her barrister, Ronan Lavery KC, also argued that the FPN was rendered invalid by a failure to provide specific details of any alleged offence.

The case was one of a series of challenges mounted amid claims that police were handing out the fines “willy nilly”.

Following further submissions, the court ruled that the FPN issued to Ms Kozubikova did not comply with the relevant regulation of the Coronavirus legislation.

With the alleged offence not sufficiently set out, Mr Justice Colton confirmed the notice was unlawful and is to be quashed.

Outside court Ms Kozubikova’s solicitor, Michael Brentnall, said: “The judgement goes a significant way in correcting the anomaly that the PSNI perpetuated that it had a power to enter a person’s home without a warrant under the Coronavirus regulations.

“This was not the case. The court has ruled that the PSNI had no power to enter a private dwelling on that basis.”