Police shut gym while soft play area quotes Magna Carta in defiance

15 police shut down gym that refused to close while second studio boss defies lockdown by insisting his members want access – as soft play centre cites MAGNA CARTA in bid to stay open 

  • Police filmed shutting down Ripped Gym in Harlow, Essex after it remained open
  • Kevin Harper, boss of Majestic Martial Arts gym in Wigan, also vowed not to shut
  • Liverpool soft play centre Cirq D-Play appeared to be open on Thursday morning
  • A sign outside quoted an ‘article 61’ of the historic document the Magna Carta

A lockdown-breaching gym has today been shut down by more than a dozen police officers.

The 15 masked officers were seen outside Ripped Gym in Harlow, Essex, after posts on its social media page appeared to show the gym was open in the face of new lockdown laws.

It comes as another defiant gym boss also refused to close his studio, saying ‘I’m standing up for what I believe is right’. 

Meanwhile, a soft play centre in Liverpool has today also demanded it be allowed to stay open – by quoting historic legal document, the Magna Carta.  

The defiant stands by the three business owners come after the government’s latest lockdown measures were introduced last night.

The measures mean all non-essential shops, as well as leisure and entertainment venues, have to close across England until December 2.

But some business owners are refusing to back down and close.

The 15 masked officers were seen outside Ripped Gym in Harlow, Essex, after posts on its social media page appeared to show the gym was open in the face of new lockdown laws

Meanwhile, a soft play centre in Liverpool (pictured) has today also demanded it be allowed to stay open

The soft play area has quotes the historic document, the Magna Carta, in a bid to stay open

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. 

Ahead of the new 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. 

Ripped Gym in Harlow, Essex, carried on operating today and in post on Facebook, it said: ‘We have every intention of remaining open through lockdown.

‘Let’s see what they throw at us.’

On social media, the gym posted a photo with the doors open in the early hours of Thursday morning.  

It said: ‘If I don’t stand up for what I believe in, what’s the point of being alive? I’m a living man/woman and this is my peaceful protest.’

The gym kept posting updates about attempts to close it throughout the day and at 9.55am it uploaded a video of Harlow Council officers asking them to shut down.

A council officer said: ‘If you don’t shut down now the police will be called and environmental health.’

The woman working at the gym replied: ‘I don’t consent.’

A few minutes later police arrived with 15 police officers, who were seen lining up outside the gym with face masks on.

In a video on Facebook a woman is seen refusing to give her details or pay a £1,000 fine for breaching Covid-19 regulations.

She says: ‘I am a living woman, living under common law.’

Meanwhile, another gym owner has also said he will not close, and declared that he is ‘standing up for what I believe is right’. 

Kevin Harper, director of Majestic Martial Arts gym in Wigan, said he had been asked by members to remain open.

He said: ‘The Government really needs to think about the position on this.

‘I don’t have a criminal record, I’m not known to the police, I’ve never been in trouble with the law, and I’m being criminalised for doing what I think is standing up for what I believe is right, and also protecting the rights of my members, who are paying members, to come and exercise.’

He said since the gym reopened in July there had been no incidents of illness and regulations had been followed.

He added: ‘The factory next door have got more workers than we’ve got members and they have no implications and no restrictions placed on them, however my industry is set to close.

‘The benefits of this industry for mental health, particularly at this time of year when you are looking at suicide rates, are unbelievable.’

Kevin Harper, director of Majestic Martial Arts gym in Wigan, said he had been asked by members to remain open

In Liverpool, soft play centre Cirq D-Play appeared to be open on Thursday morning, although staff did not want to comment.

A notice on display in the window cited ‘article 61’ of the Magna Carta and said: ‘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.’

The Magna Carta peace treaty was signed by King John and rebel barons in 1215, and said the monarch and the government would not be allowed to behave above the law.

However, only four of its 63 clauses are still valid in law today, and clause 61 is not one of them.

On Radio Five Live, a gym owner from Greater Manchester called Jayne told The Emma Barnett Show her studio had been open for exercise classes on Thursday.

She said: ‘I don’t believe it is lawful to say to somebody ‘shut your gym’ when it helps people. Fitness is helping the NHS.’

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, who was also on the programme, said the force would support local authorities to enforce the restrictions.

He said: ‘We recognise the impact this has had right across the North West and beyond.

Mr Harper said since the gym (pictured) reopened in July there had been no incidents of illness and regulations had been followed

‘Our police gyms have been closed throughout this period, we never reopened, and we absolutely recognise that health and fitness is important for all of us physically and mentally, but the Government have made some decisions so that it is consistent.’ 

Under the new lockdown, people in England have been told to stay at home and non-essential shops, pubs and gyms have been ordered to close.

Households are also banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens, unless in a support bubble.

This is designed to protect the NHS, which health chiefs fear could be overrun with Covid-19 patients.

The UK recorded a further 492 coronavirus deaths yesterday (Weds) – the highest daily figure since 19 May – and 25,177 confirmed cases.

In total, 47,742 people have died after contracting Covid-19.

The Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said today people flouting the rules would face tough fines.

He explained: ‘Where a more intense intervention is needed then the police will be involved and of course the fine structure is still in force.’

Ripped Gym, Essex Police and Harlow Council have been contacted for comment.  

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