UK News Sammy Wilson branded a 'disgrace' after he was seen without a mask
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DUP's Sammy Wilson has been branded a 'disgrace' after a photograph emerged of the MP not wearing a face mask on the London underground.
Fury erupted on social media after Mr Wilson was pictured reading a magazine without a face covering as he travelled from Westminster to Heathrow on Thursday.
A witness claimed the MP, 67, had not worn a mask for the entire duration of the trip, despite those who do not cover their faces on London transport risking £200 fines.
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Critics took to social media to question the politician after the image emerged this week, with one branding Mr Wilson a 'disgrace' and asking: 'Rules not apply to MPs?'
He added: 'Sammy Wilson MP on tube in London this morning with no mask after a £200 fine announced earlier this week. Disgrace.'
Another condemned what he claimed was 'highly irresponsible behaviour' from the East Antrim MP, adding: 'I hope that he will reconsider his actions and show some respect for other people on the tube in the future.'
North Down MP Stephen Farry tweeted: 'Most NI MPs do acknowledge, understand and respect rules re facemasks' on public transport.
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Mr Wilson has since accepted he 'should have' had a mask on, while complaining the UK has 'become like East Germany under the Stasi where members of the public think it is acceptable to act as snoops.'
The MP, who previously described face coverings as 'muzzles', went on to ask why the person who took the photograph had not approached him on the train.
He also claimed he had only taken the mask off briefly to make a call, thereported.
'Whoever took the picture didn't approach me or say anything to me which I suppose would have been the proper way to behave,' he added.
It comes as new data revealed less than 0.1 per cent of people who are stopped by police for not wearing masks on trains have received a fine.
British Transport Police said it stopped 14,726 people from 15 July to 15 August for failing to comply, with 14 fixed penalty notices issued, thereported.
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From July 30 to September 8, authorities recorded 50,729 'interventions' with passengers not wearing masks. Some 3,545 were told to leave the train.
Rules introduced in June require anyone travelling on public transport to wear a face covering, but BTP said fines would only be issues as a 'last resort.'
Speaking about the photograph of Mr Wilson at a Stormont Executive press conference, DUP leader Arlene Foster said everyone is 'equally subject to the law'.
'I want to say this as clearly as I can, everyone is subject to the law, everyone is equally subject to the law and equal under the law,' she said.
'So it is important that we remember that, and that is the position of the DUP.'
She added on Thursday that she had not had the opportunity to speak to Mr Wilson about the matter yet.
'Everybody has to abide by the law and take the consequences as well as not abiding by those laws,' she said.
Those caught not wearing a mask on public transport in London can face a £200 fine, which doubles each time a person is caught, up to £6,400.
‘Everyone subject to the law’ – Foster as DUP MP pictured on train without mask
Sammy Wilson said he ‘should have had a mask on and am offering no excuse’.Sammy Wilson said he “should have had it on and am offering no excuse”.
There are exemptions for the rule on the basis of age, health and disability reasons.
Earlier this week, Conservative MP Danny Kruger apologised after being spotted without a mask during a public transport journey in London.
Mr Kruger, David Cameron's former speechwriter, said in a statement: 'I boarded an almost empty carriage at Hungerford and quite simply forgot to put on my mask.
'When I got to Paddington I realised my mistake and covered up for the rest of my journey.
'If the person had reminded me rather than taking a photo and posting it on social media I would of course have put on my mask then and there.
'I do apologise for my mistake.'
Mr Wilson has previously been outspoken about the wearing of face coverings.
In July he tweeted a photograph of himself in an ice cream shop in Co Antrim not wearing a mask, with the message 'you can't eat ice cream when you're muzzled!'
Face coverings in indoor places became compulsory in Northern Ireland on August 10.
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