Pub landlords ‘broke Covid rules’ by giving out free drinks on Remembrance Day

Two pub bosses were sacked after breaching coronavirus restrictions – by giving out free drinks on Remembrance Sunday.

Nigel Cookson and Jo Cashon decided to leave their own beverages – not pub stock – on tables outside at The Grey Horse in Elvington, Yorkshire, on November 8.

Police told operator Punch Pubs they wanted to review the premises licences, according to Mr Cookson.

He told Yorkshire Live they had been “backed into a corner” and “that’s why we’ve been sacked”.

The pair were initially told by officers that Ms Cashon's designated premises supervisor (DPS) licence would be revoked over Covid-19 breaches, but North Yorkshire Police later denied that was the case.

Punch Pubs has asked the couple to vacate the premises.

Mr Cookson added: "We feel our case is being dealt with far more harshly than others.

“For instance, The Coach and Horses in Harrogate – also under the control of North Yorkshire Police’s licensing division – were issued with two warnings due to continued flouting of the Covid rules.

"They were then prosecuted as per the police statement ‘only as a last resort’, unlike the one strike and you're out applied to ourselves."

He added: "It's not consistent you know. We are not asking to get away with anything, we are holding our hands up – we should not have done what we did but it was all in good faith.

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"We are remorseful about it but we just think this is so heavy-handed."

Residents have since set up a petition in a bid to keep the couple as landlords, addressed to the CEO of Punch Pubs and the local MP.

MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy, has also written to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

"We are humbled by the amount of support we've had, it's amazing," Mr Cookson added.

"We are so grateful by the amount of people who have taken the time to write to people on our behalf, sign the petition or even just to call and make sure we are okay."

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He added: "We haven't given up, we are battling as hard as we can to try and keep this place. We've not given up hope yet but it's obviously not looking great."

The pub would have fully reopened under Tier 2 regulations on December 2.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “For clarity, Punch Taverns used their own internal procedure to terminate the employment of the Designated Premises Supervisor.

“North Yorkshire Police’s licensing department engaged with Punch Taverns during this process and evidence was provided regarding this incident, including body worn video from the attending officers.”

The Daily Star has approached North Yorkshire Police and Punch Pubs for comment.

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