Jonathan O’Hagan Wiki – Jonathan O’Hagan Biography
- Jonathan O’Hagan was restrained and handcuffed by police in a Lidl store
- Ikea security guard was legally exempt from wearing masks due to his asthma
- Police de-arrested him but continued to give him a £200 fine since overturned
- Mr O’Hagan, 28, has now filed an official complaint to the police watchdog
A Lidl shopper with asthma who claimed he was handcuffed for not wearing a face mask in the store has had a £200 fine quashed.
Jonathan O’Hagan, 28, alleged he was restrained and searched after police demanded to know why he was not wearing a covering.
The Ikea security guard said he told them he had asthma and was exempt, but claimed one of the officers demanded his details and threatened to arrest him.
Mr O’Hagan said he insisted he did not ‘need to disclose his medical history’ but alleged he was put in handcuffs in front of other shoppers and taken outside.
A letter seen by BirminghamLive showed his fine was later quashed. The incident happened at Lidl in Bilston High Street at around 5pm on October 2.
Mr O’Hagan called the incident ‘extremely embarrassing’ and said that he ‘felt under a lot of threat and panic from the officers’.
He also claimed that officers repeatedly demanded proof that he is exempt from covering his face in enclosed public spaces, on account of his asthma.
Police de-arrested him after his partner brought them his exemption cards and inhaler, but they continued to fine him because his inhaler didn’t have his name on it.
Mr O’Hagan appealed the fine and just 13 days later the fixed penalty notice was quashed. He has now submitted an official complaint to the police watchdog.
Coronavirus regulations mandate the wearing of masks and coverings in enclosed public spaces, including supermarkets, and public transport unless legally exempt.
These include for people who ‘cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability’.
People likely to experience ‘severe distress’ when wearing a mask are also exempt, as are children younger than 11 and officers whose ability to serve could be impaired.
Government guidance also states that those with an ‘age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give an written evidence of this’, adding that this ‘includes exemption cards’.
It states: ‘No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering.
‘Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law.’
Guidance from the College of Policing also states that only constables may use force to remove someone where they have failed to comply with a direction to leave.
A preacher has been awarded a £50 pay-out and £1,200 in legal costs by Dorset Police after an officer forcibly removed him from a van while he sang Amazing Grace to a crowd amid coronavirus lockdown.
Dorset Police did not admit liability after Dominic Muir, 44, said a police officer ‘aggressively’ mounted his van and grabbed his wrist so hard it was ‘painful’, but instead offered him £50 to stop a legal action.
Mr Muir said he was ‘humiliated’, ‘intimidated’, and made to feel like a ‘criminal’ after the altercation in Blandford, Dorset, on April 22.
He threatened to sue, leading to Dorset Police offering a pay-out and covering his legal costs ‘as is standard practice when claims are settled in this manner’.
Mr Muir said: ‘I couldn’t believe it, there I was out bringing the message of the gospel, the message of hope, people were listening and a police man came and put a stop to what I was doing.
‘Suddenly, out of nowhere gets on the back of my vehicle, grabs my arm strongly.’
The guidance adds: ‘As a last resort, officers may issue a fixed penalty notice for breach of the Regulations or arrest where necessary.’
Describing the ordeal, Mr O’Hagan said: ‘After using force to grab my hand they placed me in handcuffs. They also decided to search me.
‘It was extremely embarrassing. I’d forgotten my phone, my wallet, my inhaler and they kept going: ‘You need to prove it, you need to prove it’.
‘I explained – as per the Government website – you don’t have to have a card on you and it was just a verbal thing you needed to say.’
He said: ‘Putting me into cuffs and also giving me a fine because my inhaler didn’t have my name on is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.
‘Since this event, I can’t walk into a shop without my anxiety levels rising. I have not been out shopping since this event took place.’
In July, charity Asthma UK highlighted that people with respiratory conditions did not need to wear face masks if they are found it hard to breathe.
Earlier this month, West Midlands Police apologised to a shopper at a Sainsbury’s branch in Oldbury after officers ‘misinterpreted guidance’ and told him it was a legal requirement for an exemption card or badge to be shown.
A force spokesman said of the incident involving Mr O’Hagan: ‘These are challenging times and our officers are adapting to the new legislation and guidance which has changed many times during the pandemic.
‘Government law says that no person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering.
‘Our officers continue to use the four E’s approach – Engage, Explain, Encourage and as a last resort Enforce. Where they believe a person is being untruthful about their reasonable excuse, they can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice, and then it is up to that person to challenge it via ACRO (Criminal Records Office).
‘We understand that these restrictions are difficult for everyone, but we must all follow the rules to overcome this pandemic.’
A spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said: ‘We received a direct complaint in relation to this matter on 6 October.
‘In line with normal procedure we sent it to West Midlands Police for them to make a recording decision and determine whether it met the criteria for a referral to us.’