Covid raid in Knightsbridge: Crackdown police break up party ‘with 200 people inside’

Police broke up a huge party ‘with 200 people inside’ on an exclusive London street, leaving officers injured by revellers trying to flee before being fined.

Two policemen were wounded as they tried to stop people leaving the illegal gathering in Knightsbridge.

But the crowd turned hostile and shoved their way past them on Beauchamp Place – where properties cost £2.5million – around the corner from Harrods.

It comes amid a spate of large breaches of the national lockdown, with 150 people flocking to a Jewish wedding in east London on Thursday.

The raid in Knightsbridge was the second time the owner has faced a police fine, having been stung with a £1,000 ticket before.

Shocking police bodycam footage shows masked as they revellers streamed out of the address.

Some tripped on the steps down from the exclusive property and flew into officers trying to marshal them.

Police yelled at them to ‘stay there, stay there’ as they tried to head off the fleeing partygoers.

The clip shows them grapple with some but the Met said no arrests were made at the event at 3.30am on January 17.

Supt Michael Walsh said: ‘Attending or organising such parties during this critical period is an incredibly selfish decision to make.

‘While the majority of breaches have been resolved without incident, it deeply saddens me that some individuals have chosen to assault police who are simply doing their part in the collective battle against this deadly virus.’

It followed a string of huge parties in the exclusive neighbourhood and nearby Kensington over the past few weeks.

Police raided an address on Harrow Road on January 16 when 30 people met up, with the owner facing a £10,000 fine.

Officers also stamped out an illegal party at a commercial property on Montpelier Street on December 20, leading to it being closed.

Police also raided a lockdown-breaking wedding of 150 people at a Jewish girls’ school in north London on Thursday.

Yesodey Hatorah Girls was being held as a coronavirus testing centre for people in Hackney, opening on Sundays between 12pm and 3pm

The school was run by Rabbi Avrohom Pinter until he was struck down and killed by the infection in April last year

The school was run by Rabbi Avrohom Pinter until he was struck down and killed by the infection in April last year

The guests packed inside Yesodey Hatorah Girls’ Senior School in Stamford Hill, which is being used as a coronavirus testing centre.

The organiser, who police are searching for, is facing a £10,000 fine and five others were stung £200 after officers busted the address at 9.14pm following a tip-off.

The building’s windows had been covered to stop people seeing inside and many of the guests fled as the police arrived and avoided being fined.

Downing Street condemned the ‘selfish’ illegal gathering which took place hours after Priti Patel announced a police crackdown on rule-breakers.

Meanwhile in Wales a woman hosting an illegal house party tried to stop police entering her home before claiming all three households were in a bubble. 

Gwent Police received a call about a house party in Rhymney, Caerphilly, on Saturday January 16.

A woman is seen answering the door to police before asking the officer: ‘Are you going to fine me for this?’

Gwent Police received a call about a house party involving three people in Rhymney, Caerphilly, on Saturday 16 January

Gwent Police received a call about a house party involving three people in Rhymney, Caerphilly, on Saturday 16 January

‘If there is no breaches then no and if there is then maybe,’ the officer replies.  However the woman responds: ‘Well I am not going to pay it.’

‘Why are you asking for a fine? Surely if there is no one in there then you wouldn’t be considering it,’ the officer replies.

The woman attempts to stop police coming inside her house before the officer tells her to ‘get your hand off me’.

At one point the exasperated officer tells her: ‘I’ve tried to be tidy with you.’ 

She then refuses to give her name and tries to explain the gathering, which involved three people, by describing the three households as a bubble.

From next week people who attend house parties face £800 instant fines for breaking the rules.

Gatherings of 15 or more – half the number set out under coronavirus regulations – will lead to penalties for everyone on the premises.

The £10,000 fine for organisers of an illegal event will still apply when 30 or more are present.

As part of the Home Secretary's new crackdown, adverts have been produced with an image of partygoers covered in yellow tape which warns of the £800 penalty

As part of the Home Secretary’s new crackdown, adverts have been produced with an image of partygoers covered in yellow tape which warns of the £800 penalty

Attending an illegal gathering had attracted a £200 individual penalty. The new £800 fine will double each time for repeat offenders up to a maximum of £6,400, Priti Patel said earlier this week.

‘We will not stand by while a small number of individuals put others at risk,’ said the Home Secretary. ‘These egregious breaches are costing lives.

‘If you don’t follow these rules, then the police will enforce them.

‘Police officers are now moving more quickly to hand out fines when they encounter breaches, and they have my absolute backing in doing so.

‘Such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant threat to public health, not only to those in attendance but also to our wonderful police officers who attend these events to shut them down.’

The new rules, which come in next week, are designed to combat the worst breaches.

It remains against lockdown rules to meet even one other person indoors, unless in a support bubble.

Dr Vin Diwakar of NHS England told the Downing Street press conference after the rules were unveiled: ‘This is the biggest health emergency to face this country since the Second World War.

‘For me and my colleagues in the NHS breaking the rules in the way that’s been described today is like switching on a light in the middle of the blackout in the Blitz.

‘It doesn’t just put you at risk in your house, it puts your whole street and the whole of your community at risk.’

Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said examples of rule-breaking included a gathering of 40 revellers in east London who were ‘hostile to the police’.

Three officers were injured when they tried to break up the event.

In Hertfordshire, officers stopped a house party – equipped with mixing desks and amplifiers – with over 150 guests.

Again an officer was injured, said Mr Hewitt. And in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, officers told the organiser of an event with a dance floor and speakers not to go ahead, but later found 50 revellers on site. The chief culprit was fined £10,000.

‘We have repeatedly made it clear that house parties and other large gatherings shouldn’t be happening,’ Mr Hewitt said at a Downing Street press briefing. ‘They’re dangerous, irresponsible and totally unacceptable.

‘I hope the likelihood of an increased fine acts as a disincentive for those people who are thinking of attending or organising such events.

‘When we see people putting others and themselves in danger we will not waste time trying to reason with them. They’re demonstrating no regard for the safety of others.’

From August, when the £10,000 fines were first introduced, to January 17, 250 fixed penalty notices were issued by forces in England.

‘I make no apology for those fines, which have been given in the most serious cases where those organising those gatherings are selfishly putting lives at risk,’ said Mr Hewitt.

It is understood that police complained they had no effective way of tackling parties below the 30-person limit.

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