Coronavirus: Woman 'wrongly charged under new law'

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image copyrightGeograph/Stephen McKay
image captionMarie Dinou was arrested at Newcastle Central Station on Saturday morning

A woman was fined £660 after being wrongly charged under coronavirus laws, British Transport Police has admitted.

Marie Dinou, 41, from York, was arrested at Newcastle Central Station on Saturday after she refused to tell police why she needed to travel.

She was fined on Monday by magistrates for breaching the Coronavirus Act.

However, a police and Crown Prosecution Service review said she was wrongly charged under the act. The court will be asked to set the conviction aside.

The review followed a report in The Times newspaper on Thursday which suggested the wrong law had been used to prosecute Ms Dinou.

"There will be understandable concern that our interpretation of this new legislation has resulted in an ineffective prosecution," said British Transport Police Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock.

"This was in circumstances where officers were properly dealing with someone who was behaving suspiciously in the station, and who staff believed to be travelling without a valid ticket."

Mr Hanstock said his officers were "rightfully challenging her unnecessary travel".

He added: "Regardless, we fully accept that this shouldn't have happened and we apologise."

The force said she was incorrectly charged under the Coronavirus Act 2020 and that it would not pursue any alternative prosecution in the matter.

Mr Hanstock said frontline officers had since been provided with the latest guidance from the National Police Chiefs' Council to help them interpret the new legislation.

"I must remind the public that officers will continue to engage with people and seek to understand their reasons for their journeys," he said.

"Where we determine that there is no justifiable purpose for them being on the transport network, we will explain to the public why they should not travel."

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