Lidl shopper with asthma fined £200 and handcuffed for not wearing a face mask

A shopper with asthma has had a £200 fine quashed amid claims he was handcuffed for not wearing a mask in a supermarket.

Jonathan O'Hagan claimed he was restrained and searched after police officers demanded to know why he was not wearing a face-covering to combat the coronavirus pandemic, BirminghamLive reports.

The 28-year-old said he told officers he had asthma and he was medically exempt but claimed one of them demanded his details and threatened to arrest him in a branch of Lidl in Birmingham.

Mr O'Hagan said he insisted he did not "need to disclose his medical history" but claimed he was eventually handcuffed in front of other shoppers and taken outside.

His fine following the incident in the Bilston High Street store on Saturday, October 2 was later scrapped.

Mr O'Hagan said: "After using force to grab my hand they place me in handcuffs. They also decided to search me.

"It was extremely embarrassing. A member of the public handed me a face mask, which I put on, in an attempt to satisfy officers.

"This was against my wish but I felt under a lot of threat and panic from the officers.

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"I'd forgotten my phone, my wallet, my inhaler and they kept going: 'You need to prove it, you need to prove it'."

He went on: "I explained – as per the Government website – you don't have to have a card on you and it was just a verbal thing you needed to say."

Mr O'Hagan said his partner returned home to collect his exemption cards and inhaler, but this was not enough to satisfy the police.

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He added: "They took me out of handcuffs, de-arrested me and had a look at my records but said that, because my inhaler didn't have my name on it, they would still have to fine me."

Mr O'Hagan appealed the fine and the fixed penalty notice was quashed.

He has now complained to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), the force watchdog.

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Mr O'Hagan said: "Since this event, I can't walk into a shop without my anxiety levels rising.

"I have not been out shopping since this event took place."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "These are challenging times and our officers are adapting to the new legislation and guidance which has changed many times during the pandemic.

"Government law says that no person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering.

"We understand that these restrictions are difficult for everyone, but we must all follow the rules to overcome this pandemic."

An IOPC spokesperson said: "We received a direct complaint in relation to this matter on 6 October. In line with normal procedure, we sent it to West Midlands Police for them to make a recording decision and determine whether it met the criteria for a referral to us."

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