Waterford businesses threatened with legal action by anti-mask group using fraudulent letters
18 hrs ago
A SOLICITOR HAS hit out at a campaign by an anti-mask group who have used his name without consent in a series of letters targeting businesses in Waterford.
Letters distributed in the city recently informed business owners that they would face legal proceedings if they required customers to wear masks when entering their premises.
The letters purported to be from Ken Cunningham, a criminal defence lawyer, and warned business owners to “take steps” to reverse the “discriminatory” policy of mask-wearing and to inform their staff to admit customers without masks.
But Cunningham has said that the letters, which were first reported by the Waterford News and Star newspaper, are not from him or his firm Newell Gillen Cunningham.
“It’s grossly incorrect and factually incorrect,” he told The Journal. “It’s nothing to do with us at all, we’ve no instructions from any of these anti-mask protesters. The whole thing is pathetic.”
The first letter was sent a number of weeks ago and, by coincidence, the business targeted was a longstanding client of Cunningham.
“I rang them and reassured them it wasn’t me at all, but then about a week or two later another business received them. In the last fortnight, another received a letter,” he said.
“These are all small, local, retail shops. They’re trying to get back on their feet after a nightmare 18 months, I have no doubt this sort of thing causes anxiety so I want to reassure them that it’s not me.”
Cunningham believes the businesses had contact with anti-mask protesters prior to the letters being issued.
He added: “There was probably a young boy or girl working there doing their job and who ran into a confrontation with somebody who wouldn’t wear a mask.”
Meanwhile, another local newspaper reported this morning that anti-lockdown protesters have targeted a hotel in Co Wexford.
The owner of the Loch Garman Arms told the Gorey Guardian that staff “were on the back foot” after receiving the letter threatening legal action if the business continued obeying rules on restrictions.
Previously, The Journal reported on how hospitality businesses were hit by a campaign of false bookings and online abuse for implementing the Covid Digital Cert policy for customers.
Some people had been identifying and sharing businesses on social media that said they would not open until they can open for everyone, or who said they would not be checking Digital Covid Certificates, and encouraging people to give them business.
When indoor dining returned last month, a smaller number of people identified businesses intending to obey the rules and called for them to be targeted.
Gardaí in Waterford city have been asked by The Journal about whether they have received any complaints from businesses on the letter campaign.