The brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held a mass rally in breach of Covid rules at which conspiracy theorist David Icke addressed a crowd of hundreds, a court heard. Piers Corbyn, 75, along with Louise Creffield, 35, and 55-year-old Vincent Dunmall organised the Trafalgar Square protest on August 29, 2020, as well as three similar gatherings in September October and November that year, magistrates were told.
Corbyn alone is accused of holding a further gathering on New Year’s Eve, 2020. The rallies were in breach of Covid regulations in place at the time restricting people from gathering in large groups, Westminster Magistrates Court was told.
Iestyn Morgan, prosecuting, said: “The three defendants are alleged to have broken public health regulations arising from the Covid pandemic. The prosecution case is that they held a series of political gatherings, each attracting more than 30 people.
“In some of these, the events did have risk assessments – but the prosecution case is that reasonable steps were not taken to make sure they were compliant so they were in breach of the regulations.”
Mr Morgan told the court: “Holding a gathering is not defined in the legislation. It is an issue that the court will have to decide as to what amounts to holding.
“Clearly holding is more than participating, but the prosecution says it is of note that the word organising is not used. Holding is not the same thing. The question for the court is whether these defendants had a reasonable excuse.”
Before the first event on August 29, 2020, Corbyn liaised with police officers and Mr Morgan said it was clear he was taking a leadership role. At the event itself Corbyn gave a speech and Creffield and Dunmall were also present on stage.
Mr Morgan said: “The prosecution say this is evidence that they were holding the event. The risk assessment for that event was inadequate. That means that the event was not exempt from the rules preventing large gatherings.”
CCTV footage played in court showed a crowd of hundreds cheering as David Icke also took to the stage where he said: “What a joy it is to look out upon an island of sanity in a world of lunacy.”
Icke also claimed that the spread of Covid-19, which has killed more than 190,000 people in the UK, was an “illusion pandemic”. Body worn footage from police officers on the day was also played which showed Corbyn’s arrest. Supporters can be heard shouting “fascist” and “shame on you”.
In a social media post published after the rally Corbyn described himself as the “official organiser”. He also encouraged his followers to attend the following rally on September 26 where the group wanted to pressure MPs to scrap the Coronavirus Act 2020. Mr Morgan said that on December 18 the police sent a copy of the assessment to Veronica Schultz, a health and safety advisor for Westminster City Council. She told the court: “I looked at the email and afterwards I compared it to the risk assessments that we had on our system.
“We have seven risk assessments from other events. They were provided by Mr Corbyn as organiser. These seven had all the elements of a risk assessment. They included control measures that this event did not have.”
She added that to herself and her colleagues it did not amount to a risk assessment at all and they instead referred to it only as an “information document”.
“It should have elements of social distancing, arrangements in case of overcrowding, a communication strategy between the organisers and the participants.
“We would be looking at marshals, who should be communicating with participants, making sure people avoid crowding in large groups, screaming and sneezing in each other’s faces. They said the risk is low but the explanation is based on personal and highly-speculative views. It is not based on any true statement that could be called a fact.”
Mr Morgan said that risk assessments for the other events were considered to be adequate. Corbyn, of Elephant and Castle, south east London, denies five charges of holding a gathering and five charges of participating in a public gathering of more than 30 people.
Creffield, of Brighton, East Sussex, and Dunmall, of Orpington, south east London, deny four charges of holding a gathering and four charges of participating in a public gathering of more than 30 people.
The trial continues.