200 travelers turn up at wedding; Priest faces £1,000 fine

Priest facing a fine

A Catholic priest is facing a fine of £1,000 after 200 guests turned up to a gypsy wedding.

Under Covid-19 rules, at the time the legal limit was only 15.

Fr Simon Hall of Our Lady of the Angels church in Nuneaton, UK was told by police to expect a summons in the mail.

Hall, 43, said he was told by wedding organisers that only 15 people would be attending.

“It was just such a shock to me. We had arranged for 15 people, and this was what we had agreed. This was repeated every time I met them, and then on the day it was very different.”

When asked why he allowed it to carry on, he replied: ‘What could I do? I just wanted to get through it as quickly as I could.’

The illegal wedding took place two days before the country was plunged into its second national lockdown.

Before lockdown, no more than 15 people were allowed to attend a wedding, ‘even where large numbers could be accommodated with social distancing in a Covid-secure venue’, according to the Government’s website.

As the priest prepared for the ceremony, a cavalcade of cars was winding its way through the streets of the Midlands town. The cars were led by a white horse-drawn carriage.

Local driver Mandeep Mudhar commented on Facebook: ‘I saw it in town, the couple in a white horse-drawn carriage, surrounded by loads of flashy expensive cars blocking the three lanes hooting away and no regard to traffic lights or other cars.”

Father Hall only learned of the problem when it was too late. Now the priest is facing a fine.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Birmingham said: ‘In light of public health guidance, the Bishops Conference of England and Wales have provided guidance on all aspects of Church life, including weddings. The parish has been following these guidelines with appropriate measures in place to help prevent the spread of infection.

‘On this occasion, despite the parish stating that only 15 people can be present at a wedding, many more attended. Attempts made by the parish to remove the crowd were unsuccessful and police intervened. The Archdiocese and the parish are committed to following the latest Government guidelines as and when they are issued and do not condone large gatherings of this kind. Warwickshire Police are now investigating this matter. Witnesses are asked to contact them with any information.’


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