Two men arrested at Christian bookshop after gathering of 50 people – as owners cite Magna Carta


Two men are arrested at Christian bookshop and tearooms after gathering of 50 people in breach of Covid rules – as owners cite Magna Carta for reason to stay open in lockdown

  • Two men were arrested Saturday after refusing to give details for a £200 fine 
  • ’40 to 50′ people were found gathered at The Mustard Seed cafe and bookshop 
  • The cafe in Gedling, Nottingham, has stayed open in lockdown citing Magna Cart

Two men have been arrested at a Christian bookshop after it hosted a gathering of 50 people despite lockdown restrictions.   

The Mustard Seed, a tearoom and Christian bookshop, in Gedling, Nottingham, is quoting the Magna Carta as the reason behind its decision to stay open against government rules.

The shop was found to be open with ’40 to 50 people’ in attendance on Saturday afternoon, just a day after receiving a £1,000 fine.    

Police arrested two men who refused to provide their details when officers attempted to issue them a £200 fine each.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: ‘Two men have been arrested after officers were called to a report of 40 to 50 people gathering at a cafe.

‘They were detained after refusing to give their details when officers attempted to give them £200 fixed penalty notices for breaching Covid-19 regulations.

Two men were arrested at The Mustard Seed, a tearoom and Christian bookshop, in Gedling, Nottingham, on Saturday afternoon

The cafe and bookshop was found to be open with '40 to 50 people' in attendance on Saturday afternoon, just a day after receiving a £1,000 fine

The cafe and bookshop was found to be open with ’40 to 50 people’ in attendance on Saturday afternoon, just a day after receiving a £1,000 fine

The two men were detained after refusing to give their details to police at the Mustard Seed in Gedling, Nottinghamshire

The two men were detained after refusing to give their details to police at the Mustard Seed in Gedling, Nottinghamshire

What is the Magna Carta and why are businesses wrong to quote ‘clause 61’?

The Magna Carta is a royal charter agreed to by King John of England in 1215 amid a row with rebellious barons.

It promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on payments to the Crown. But it did not last, leading to the First Barons’ War.

It was reissued several times in the following years, until in 1297, it was made part of England’s statue law.

But as Parliament’s power grew, it lost much of its significance. Now, only four of its clauses still remain in use. 

During the second lockdown, some businesses have put signs outside their business sighting clause 61 and saying: ‘Any attempt to enforce unlawful acts, statutes or legislative laws on myself will be taken as an act of high treason, for which, you will stand trial before a jury of the people and which still carries the gallows.’

However the clause is not one of those still in use. 

One legal expert, Rupert Beloff, tweeted that while clause 61 appeared in the 1215 version, it was removed by the time it was reissued in 1216 and did not exist by the time the Magna Carta was made statute in 1297. 

‘It comes after officers were called to the Mustard Seed cafe in Main Road, Gedling, at 4.20pm today (Saturday 14 November).

‘On arrival the premises was locked with a large number of people inside – despite the health protection regulations.’

Officers were called to the bookshop earlier the same day at 1.45pm to support Gedling Borough Council officials following reports that the cafe was continuing trading. 

The business was told by council officials to close on Friday, November 13, and was issued with a £1,000 fine after remaining open during the second national lockdown.

The venue has quoted its rights under common law and used the Magna Carta 1215 to claim it cannot lawfully be closed down by the authorities.  

Its owner, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC: ‘I’m not doing this because I’m a rebel.

‘I don’t believe what I am doing is unlawful. I’m standing up for what is right and moral.’

Chief Inspector Rob Shields, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘Officers attended to engage with and disperse people who had gathered in contravention of the national lockdown.

‘Two men refused to disperse and refused to give their details to be issued with fixed penalty notices so they were arrested.

‘The lockdown legislation is intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect the NHS.

‘Most people across the county have been playing their part in minimising the spread of the virus but sadly there remain a few people who refuse to adhere to our efforts to engage, explain and educate and consequently we will not hesitate to enforce the regulations.’  

Speaking on Saturday afternoon, leader of the borough council, Councillor John Clarke, said: ‘The council is investigating complaints from a large number of people.

The venue has quoted its rights under common law and used the Magna Carta 1215 to claim it cannot lawfully be closed down. A notice in the window of the tearoom (pictured)

The venue has quoted its rights under common law and used the Magna Carta 1215 to claim it cannot lawfully be closed down. A notice in the window of the tearoom (pictured)

‘It’s in relation to the fact that it’s (the business) open. It’s just a pure defiance of the law of the state.

‘I think a police van’s down there at the moment but I don’t know whether any action’s been taken.’ 

The Mustard Seed have been contacted for comment.   

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