Piers Corbyn was “specifically targeted” by police at anti-lockdown protests and there was a “politicisation in the enforcement of the regulations”, his barrister has told a court.
Ben Cooper QC told Westminster magistrates on Friday that the 73-year-old weather forecaster was “very much on the radar” of officers patrolling London’s Hyde Park in May.
Corbyn, the elder brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, denies breaching coronavirus rules during two protests at the park on 16 and 30 May. He was due to stand trial on Friday but issues with late disclosure of police logbooks delayed the proceedings.
The district judge Sam Goozee indicated his impatience with lawyers, telling them: “These issues should have been dealt with between June and today,” as he ordered the disclosure of a logbook from 30 May. He set a new trial date of 27 November.
Sketching out the defence case, Cooper referenced Black Lives Matter protests on 30 May, saying there were “no arrests taking place at other protests”.
He told the court: “This demonstrates there is a politicisation in the enforcement of the regulations by choosing to permit one set of demonstrators to protest while at the same time discriminating against different groups on the same day.”
Corbyn was applauded as he arrived at the court, and supporters in the public gallery handed out flyers to the press. The activist appeared to nod off several times during the afternoon session, and he was told off by the judge after his phone rang several times and for conversing with his supporters during lulls in proceedings.
Corbyn, of Southwark, south London, denies two counts of participating in a gathering in public of more than two people in England during the coronavirus emergency period.
Speaking outside court on Friday morning, he said: “If we win today, this will set a precedent for all other people arrested under the Covid regulations. If we lose, we will appeal. Whatever happens, if they impose a fine, I will not pay the fine. I’m not going to pay any fines for these anti-just, illegal laws.”