A vicar from Brighton got the government to “look at” reviewing fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during the daily Downing Street press conference on Tuesday.
Reverend Martin Poole put health secretary Matt Hancock on the spot by asking him about the fines in the wake of the scandal surrounding Dominic Cummings’ alleged breach of the lockdown rules.
The prime minister’s aide has defended himself by saying he did not break lockdown rules by driving 280-miles between London and Durham to ensure his family’s safety.
Rev Poole asked the health secretary on Tuesday: "Will the government review all penalty fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during lockdown?"
Hancock replied: “Thank you Martin, it’s a very good question. We do understand the impact and the need for making sure that children get adequate childcare.
“That is one of the significant concerns we’ve had all the way through this. Especially coming from a man of the cloth, it is perfectly reasonable to take away that question.
“I’ll have to talk to my Treasury colleagues before I can answer it in full. We’ll look at it and if we can get your details we’ll write to you with a full answer and make an announcement from this podium. I think we can make that committment.”
According to BBC News, a total of 13,445 fines have been handed out for breaching lockdown rules in England up to 11 May, data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council shows.
Rev Poole was praised for his question on Twitter after his press conference appearance, with some labelling him an “absolute hero”.
Cracking question from the Martin the Brighton vicar asking Hancock to refund penalty fines on families travelling for childcare... Hancock says “its a v good question” and says he’ll review with Treasury...— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 26, 2020
But unclear how many people were actually fined for this...
The moment the whole Government got banjaxed by a Brighton clergyman called MARTIN. Remember his name. It will be a quiz question coming to you via Kahoot! soon... https://t.co/47dEGqB892— Sean Dromgoole (@SeanDromgoole) May 26, 2020
Martin from Brighton with the first question to Matt Hancock pic.twitter.com/HA6kT0sv4v— Graeme Demianyk (@GraemeDemianyk) May 26, 2020
Martin the Vicar from Brighton, you are an absolute hero. https://t.co/afyCDztGOg— Catherine Philp (@scribblercat) May 26, 2020
Good question— Natalie Bennett (@natalieben) May 26, 2020
Martin from Brighton asks whether the government will review all penalty fines imposed on families travelling for childcare purposes during lockdown.
One #coronavirus law for all?
Speaking after the conference to Sky News, Rev Poole said: "I think everything about this weekend and the kind of storm that's going around… is about unfairness.
"I think people feel a very strong sense that its not right that certain people can behave in a way that the rest of us are not allowed to
"I'm very interested, as a vicar, in unfairness. There are all sorts of different inequalities in our society at the moment and this is just one of them that needs to be sorted out and particularly for any families that have travelled, probably worried they were doing the wrong thing, and were stopped and charged a penalty notice, that should definitely be, as far as I'm concerned, refunded if that was allowed."
Rev Poole is the vicar os St Lukes' church in Brighton and has been highly critical of Dominic Cummings on social media.
He is also a trustee of Together in Sussex, a mental health charity which operates across his home county.
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