The first time the young car salesman learned of his £1,760 punishment for breaking Covid face mask rules was when he saw his name mentioned in an article in his local newspaper.
The report revealed he had been fined by a local court for non-payment of a £200 police penalty notice after being caught without a face covering when he popped into a fried chicken takeaway.
‘I felt angry. I did not even get a letter from them about this new court fine,’ says Sultan Basharat. ‘Two grand for not wearing a mask? That’s a joke isn’t it?.’
But it is not a joke.
Sultan, 34, from Reading, Berks, is being punished by a secretive court system used to enforce the payment of fixed-penalty notices handed out by police for lockdown and mask breaches during the pandemic.
In the week that the Metropolitan Police issued 20 penalty notices to those who attended lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, the Mail has discovered that ordinary members of the public are being fined huge sums for failing to pay such penalties, whether deliberately or unwittingly.