Lab11’s gates are staying open after a £10,000 Covid fine issued for an alleged breach of the restrictions was dropped (Picture: Google Street View)
A nightclub hit with a £10,000 ‘superfine’ under Covid legislation will party on after the high-profile case was dropped following an 11-month legal challenge.
The independent, warehouse-style venue made headlines after police wearing body-cams descended on an event in a marquee.
The club refused to pay the so-called ‘superfine’ and court action was taken, with a trial originally scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
However, it emerged today that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on September 1, 2021, that it was discontinuing the case after several adjournments.
The CPS found that the ‘legal test for a prosecution was not met’.
The legal proceedings ended after analysis showed that hundreds of cases brought under coronavirus laws have been dropped. The CPS review found that 359 of 1,252 actions were withdrawn or quashed once reaching court.
One bar owner who was also hit with a £10,000 fine told Metro.co.uk the case is one of several he is aware of where penalties have not been paid.
The licensee, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I know of at least six people in different parts of the country who received the fines.
‘None of us has heard anything and we haven’t even been given court dates. We all feel none of it will stand up in court.’
Lab11 was formally charged with holding an indoor, ‘rave-type gathering of more than 30 people in a Tier 2 area’ on October 17 last year.
Officers from West Midlands Police filmed the scene as they attended what they said was a party in a ‘huge marquee’ attended by up to 120 people.
Lab11 argued that it had taken enhanced precautions in a marquee area that should have been classed as outdoors (Picture: West Midlands Police)
The bodycam footage showed officers walking into the venue in Digbeth with the caption: ‘This isn’t a game any more. People are dying.’
The force said households had been mixing indoors, which at the time was banned under the city’s tier-two restrictions aimed at suppressing rising Covid rates.
Lab11 claimed the event took place in a refurbished marquee area with Covid precautions and this should have been classed as outdoors.
Lab11 said that it had taken enhanced precautions in a marquee area that should have been classed as outdoors (Picture: West Midlands Police)
In tier two areas, entertainment venues were allowed to have head counts exceeding the ‘rule of six’ but no one could mix indoors with anyone outside of their household or support bubble.
The venue subsequently launched a Crowdfunder appeal, which raised £35,490, to keep it afloat during the Covid shut-down and pay for the legal battle, pleading not guilty to breaking the Health Protection Regulations.
In February, Kirsty Brimelow QC, a human rights barrister, told The Independent that ‘there is likely to be thousands of unlawfully issued’ fines.
The online title found that most wrongful prosecutions had been issued by the police and withdrawn by the CPS before people were convicted.
The Lab11 case is one of the most high-profile instances of a venue contesting a £10,000 fixed penalty notice, the maximum amount police were able to levy.
The club, which has a warehouse-style main room, has resumed operations after Covid restrictions were lifted in the summer, attracting a host of big names in dance music.
On its website, the venue says: ‘Get ready for A HUGE October.
‘Some of the world’s biggest artists will be joining us beneath the arches as we kick off a crazy autumn schedule.’
A CPS spokesperson said: ‘We have a duty to keep all cases under review and having considered all the circumstances, the decision was made that the legal test for a prosecution was not met and this case was stopped.’
Lab11 was hit with a £10,000 fine but is now welcoming some of the world’s biggest dance music DJs (Picture: Google Street View)
Responding to criticism of the fines in November 2020, a Home Office spokesman said: ‘The rules are being enforced correctly in the vast majority of cases and those who refuse to pay FPNs may face court action and a possible criminal record.’
Lab11 has not responded to requests for comment about the case.
Metro.co.uk has also approached West Midlands Police for comment.
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