Gym owner fined £67k for flouting lockdown rules must now pay £9k legal costs

A gym owner who has already been fined £67,000 for breaking lockdown rules has been told he has to pay a further £9,000 in legal costs.

Despite being warned several times by council officials Andreas Michli refused to close his gym in Wood Green, north London.

Last Wednesday, November 9, some 30 police officers turned up to Zone Gym to order customers off the premises.

Michli, who has owned the gym for five years, said despite the coronavirus pandemic he felt keeping it open had been “the right thing to do socially, morally and scientifically”.

“There were a lot of reasons why I didn’t close,” he said, “I couldn’t actually find a reason why to not keep it open, other than there was legislation in place.”

Highbury Corner Magistrates Court heard yesterday afternoon that a video of Mr Michli goading authorities and showing "contempt" for the fixed penalties he received was posted on social media on Monday evening.

He posted footage on Instagram of him in the gym ripping up the fixed penalty notices and wiping his backside with them, the court heard.

Wearing a black polo shirt and matching black shorts, he sat in the dock until being called to the dock to give evidence from the witness stand.

Tiernan Fitzgibbon, representing Haringey Council, told the court: "The video points to the defendant's behaviour and attitude towards the regulations which is why the council asked for the closure of the premises.

"It shows the closure is necessary to prevent the behaviour and public nuisance from reoccurring.

"That video is of you [Mr Michli] ripping up the fixed penalty notices and wiping your a*** with them.”

Michli insisted: ”It's a specialist body-building gym, we have got national and worldwide champions training at our gym.

"They compete at a professional level and make money from that industry. These are the people who were using it during lockdown.”

But the magistrates ordered the closure of the building on the grounds gyms were mandated to close by the Government.

The gym will have to shut its doors until midnight on December 2, with only Mr Michli allowed in the building to carry out maintenance and take deliveries.

Mr Michli was also ordered to pay £9,000 in costs to the council to pay for legal fees and the cost of the 30 PCs to raid the building last week.

After the hearing Mr Michli was greeted with cheers and applause from a group of around 20 supporters who chanted his name as he left court.

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