Two men, 20 and 23, fined £10k for organising massive snowball fight in Leeds during Covid lockdown

TWO men involved in organising a massive snowball fight have each been given £10,000 fines for a "blatant breach" of coronavirus lockdown rules.

Dozens of people were seen throwing snowballs at each other as crowds of people flocked to Hyde Park in Leeds on January 14.

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An unnamed 20-year-old and 23-year-old were slapped with the heavy fines yesterday after being quizzed by cops probing the gathering.

The 23-year-old had already received a fine for breaching restrictions in relation to mixing with households at an address in the nearby Hyde Park area.

Under coronavirus legislation, a gathering of more than 30 people is illegal and carries a maximum £10,000 fine.

Current rules state you can leave your home to exercise by yourself, with your household or on your own with one other person.

This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

Chief Superintendent Damien Miller said: "We take absolutely no pleasure in handing out such heavy fines to these two young men but their actions encouraged hundreds of people to be in close proximity to each other, creating a significant and completely unnecessary risk of increasing the spread of the virus.

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"It was a blatant breach of the legislation that is in place to help keep people safe at what remains a critical time for us all."

Shocking footage of the snowball fight was shared online and met with widespread criticism on social media.

Onlookers said they were horrified by the breach just a mile from where sick Covid patients are being treated at Leeds General Infirmary.

Chief Superintendent Miller said: "The event attracted understandable media attention and widespread public condemnation of all those who irresponsibly took part.

"That said, it remains clear that the vast majority of people recognise the need for collective responsibility and are continuing to stick with the regulations that are there to protect our families and our communities."

The police chief added officers won't hesitate to act when people "blatantly" disregard lockdown restrictions, putting others at risk.

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Liam Ford, who lives nearby, shot a brief video after coming across the commotion while on a walk with his girlfriend.

The retail worker said at the time: "With what's going on, I can't condone mass gatherings like that.

"I've really come to appreciate going for a walk and having that time, I think these people have abused that.

"We were going for a walk in the park, it's literally around the corner from our house, and we heard all this commotion. I couldn't believe what I was seeing."

Liam said the snowball fight disrespects frontline NHS staff.

He said: "It just shows a blatant disregard for the NHS and the strain it is under."

Hyde Park is a large public park north-west of Leeds city centre, within an inner-city residential area of the same name.

The area is popular among university students.

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