THE owner of a shop that was hit with a £44,000 court bill for opening in lockdown has said it is a "huge relief" to have won an appeal.

Alasdair Walker-Cox, proprietor of Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, was found to have breached the rules during the second lockdown in November 2020 and on two occasions in February and March last year.

Mr Walker-Cox was ordered to pay a £35,000 fine, £8,986.67 in court costs and a £190 victim surcharge after losing the Kidderminster Magistrates Court case in August but at an appeal hearing on Friday, Judge James Burbidge QC - Worcester's most senior judge, allowed the appeal against conviction and sentence.

Speaking to the Worcester News Mr Walker-Cox said it was a "massive relief it was all over", adding he was pleased the judge agreed with his defence that the rules had been "open to interpretation" on which shops were essential.

"We have been through a lot," he said.

"It should never have got this far, but it is the nature of the beast going through a legal process.

"We argued we were essential, we sold food, - common sense prevailed in the end.

"Word has spread that we won the appeal, customers who supported us have been coming in to talk to us about it.

"The huge amount we were fined - it is a huge weight off our minds."

The case was originally brought by Wychavon District Council and Mr Walker Cox lost a case at Kidderminster Magistrates Court case last August when they were found guilty of four breaches of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions). 


READ MORE: Grace Cards owners who refused to shut in lockdown say they won't pay £44,000 court bill

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At the time Mr Walker Cox called the £44,000 "ridiculous" vowing not to pay and taking it to appeal.

A video showing West Mercia Police and Wychavon District Council officers telling Mr Walker-Cox's wife Lydia that the Droitwich shop must close under the law as it is not essential went viral on Youtube.


Councillor Bradley Thomas, leader of Wychavon District Council said: “We respect the judge’s decision and will await his written judgement with interest. We are pleased the judge made it clear there was no criticism of us for bringing the case or that we had done anything improper by doing so.

“The national lockdowns were a difficult time for everyone. We’re pleased the country has put that stage of the pandemic behind us and our focus is firmly on helping all businesses and supporting the growth of our local economy.”