Catholic Priest Faces £1,000 Fine Conducting 200 Guest Gypsy Wedding

Catholic Priest Faces £1,000 Fine Conducting 200 Guest Gypsy Wedding in a Church in Nuneaton- Update.

A Catholic priest is facing a £1,000 fine for breaching lockdown rules after TWO HUNDRED travellers turned up for a wedding – despite him being told just 15 guests would be attending. The illegal wedding took place at the Our Lady of the Angels church in Nuneaton. Revd Father Simon Hall, 43, said he was told that only 15 people would be attending. When asked why he allowed it to carry on, he replied: ‘What could I do? I just wanted to get through it as quickly as I could.’

According to a police spokesman, officers entered the Our Lady of the Angels church in Nuneaton to tell Revd Father Simon Hall that he could expect a summons through the post. The illegal wedding took place on November 3, two days before the country was plunged into its second national lockdown.

Under present rules, weddings are now only permitted in instances where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover, and even then, only six people are allowed to attend. Before lockdown, no more than 15 people were allowed to attend a wedding, ‘even where large numbers could be accommodated with social distancing in a Covid-secure venue’, according to the Government’s website.

Police had been alerted to a large crowd gathering in the grounds of the church set the town centre last Tuesday afternoon by locals and intervened shortly after the nuptials had been completed. Revd Father Simon Hall, 43, said: ‘It was just such a shock to me. We had arranged for 15 people and this was what we had agreed. This was repeated every time I met them and then on the day it was very different.’

As the priest prepared for the ceremony, a cavalcade of traveller cars was seen winding its way through the streets of the Midlands town, behind a white horse-drawn carriage. Local driver Mandeep Mudhar commented on Facebook: ‘I saw it in town, the couple in a white horse-drawn carriage, surrounded by loads of flashy expensive cars blocking the three lanes hooting away and no regard to traffic lights or other cars.

‘About six cars crossed at a junction without looking left or right and we all had to stop as they had no intention of stopping. There must have been at least 50 in the cars etc Bentley, expensive range rovers, souped-up people carriers. Unbelievable.’

Update

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Birmingham said: ‘In light of public health guidance, the Bishops Conference of England and Wales have provided guidance on all aspects of Church life, including weddings. The parish has been following these guidelines with appropriate measures in place to help prevent the spread of infection.

‘On this occasion, despite the parish stating that only 15 people can be present at a wedding, many more attended. Attempts made by the parish to remove the crowd were unsuccessful and police intervened. The Archdiocese and the parish are committed to following the latest Government guidelines as and when they are issued and do not condone large gatherings of this kind. Warwickshire Police are now investigating this matter. Witnesses are asked to contact them with any information.’

 


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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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