A MAN fined £10,000 after organising an anti-lockdown protest has been unmasked as a personal trainer to celebrities including Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley.
Paul Boys, 40, was handed the punishment after more than 600 people marched through Manchester city centre on Sunday afternoon in defiance of government orders to stay home to try and curb the spread of coronavirus.
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The man behind Manchester’s anti-lockdown protest has been named as personal trainer Paul BoysCredit: MEN Media
He works with celebrities including Coronation Street actress Catherine TyldesleyCredit: instagram.com/auntiecath17
Four of the demonstrators – the majority of whom were not wearing face masks or social distancing – were arrested for public order offences and £200 fixed penalty notices were issued to 25 protestors, some of whom had travelled from Cumbria by coach to attend.
Boys, of Altrincham, Cheshire, is a former soldier who cops say organised the protest under the banner “Rise Up Manchester”.
It saw some attendees hold placards with messages such as “Fear is the currency of control” and “Unite for Freedom”.
GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins condemned the gathering, labelling it “utterly ridiculous behaviour from the organisers and the protestors, deliberately breaking the law and putting our communities at risk”.
‘NO LAWS HAD BEEN BROKEN’
Today Boys confirmed to The Sun he had been fined £10,000 but said he would be appealing as the march had started as a Remembrance Sunday parade.
He said: “This was given the legal go-ahead as a Remembrance Sunday parade.
“It was not an anti-lockdown movement or protest. I’m a veteran and served in the military for over a decade.
“There were military veterans there on the day. The application had been accepted and the risk assessment had been approved.
Former soldier Boys was fined £10,000 for the protestCredit: Paul Boys / Next Level Personal Training
More than 600 people joined the march on SundayCredit: Rex Features
Demonstrators held up signs with messages such as ‘Fear is the currency of control’ and ‘Unite for Freedom’Credit: Rex Features
Boys says he wanted people to speak about ‘pro-choice, pro-freedom, pro-democracy’Credit: Rex Features
However he insists it started as a Remembrance Sunday parade before demonstrators clashed with police over the lockdownCredit: Rex Features
“Then 40 minutes before the event, they told us everything that we’d set up, including the sound system and stage would be seized.
“It was meant to be a service to honour our fallen heroes who fought for our freedom and, yes, we were also giving the stage for people to speak about democracy and freedom, so I don’t like the term anti-lockdown or anti-freedom.
“It was more about pro-choice, pro-freedom, pro-democracy.
It was not an anti-lockdown movement or protest. I’m a veteran and served in the military for over a decade.
“Despite the fact it was given the legal go-ahead and no laws had been broken and I had to tell everybody on the day it had been cancelled, they have still issued me with a £10,000 fine, which I most definitely will be contesting.
“People were already there. Masses had gathered.
“They are trying to say that despite the fact I called an end to the gathering and decided, as I am well in my rights, to walk on my own after telling people it was off so I am not liable for any of their actions, they then followed me and they are trying to say I encouraged that when I most definitely didn’t.
“This was a day we had organised to celebrate and remember our fallen heroes, past and present, and we wanted to celebrate by bringing people together to stand for what we believe to be a worthy cause, which is democracy and freedom.”
Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Mabs Hussain, said: “Ahead of Sunday, officers attempted to engage with the person organising this gathering – warning him of the likely consequences and advising, for his and everyone else’s sake, to abandon his plans.
“However, he decided to ignore this advice and pressed ahead with a reckless and completely irresponsible course of action.
“He has been left with a significant financial penalty as a result.
“Gatherings such as this increase demand on our officers, who are already working tirelessly in difficult circumstances to help protect our communities.
“Government restrictions on social distancing are in place to control the spread of Covid-19.
“We recognise that these are difficult times, but I would implore everyone to think of their loved ones and do your bit to fight the virus, as well as protecting our NHS, by complying with current restrictions during lockdown.”
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