Blackburn with Darwen Mayor Iftakhar Hussain has resigned after breaching Covid restrictions by visiting a house where police said people were “celebrating a wedding”.
Lancashire Police said that officers responding to a report that guests were at a house and “found nine people inside celebrating the wedding, including two residents of the address”.
A force spokesman said all nine had been issued with a £200 fixed penalty notice and the non-residents had been instructed to leave the address on Dukes Brow, Blackburn, at about 21:00 GMT on Saturday 7th February.
Labour councillor Iftakhar Hussain confirmed he was fined £200, and said he regretted the “momentary lapse of judgment”, adding that he “should have known better”.
In a statement, he said he believed resigning was “the right thing to do”, as he no longer believed he could “continue to serve as mayor to the best of my ability”.
“I do not want to make any excuses,” he added.
“I regret the momentary lapse of judgment – I should have known better and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
Mohammed Khan, the leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said he had accepted Mr Hussain’s resignation, adding: “I know he deeply regrets this mistake [and] I would like to thank him for his dedicated service during this difficult year.”
The Labour councillor had earlier claimed he had been taking part in a “remote meeting” all evening when his uncle called, at about 20:30, and “asked for some food to be delivered to his house”.
“I agreed to facilitate this by going to the house and letting the food outlet deliver the food,” he said, speaking with the Lancashire Telegraph.
“Once the food was delivered to the house, I remained there while my uncle returned.
“I know in hindsight, I should have left the house… once the food had been delivered.”
He added that he had urged those present to abandon the function once he realised what was happening.
Blackburn with Darwen Council’s deputy chief executive Sayyed Osman said the mayor stepping down was “the correct course of action” and had reinforced “the council’s members’ code of conduct, which highlights personal responsibility”.
“We do not endorse or condone any behaviour that falls outside this code and the coronavirus restrictions,” he added.
Deputy mayor Derek Hardman will take over mayoral responsibilities until a new mayor is chosen in May.
Blackburn with Darwen, which was subject to tier four restrictions before the national lockdown was imposed, currently has 16th highest infection rate in England, according to the latest government figures.