TWO men involved in organising a mass snowball fight in Leeds in clear breach of coronavirus restrictions have each been given £10,000 fines.

The men, aged 20 and 23, were identified as a result of police enquiries following the incident on January 14.

Hundreds of people gathered on Woodhouse Moor in close proximity to each other for more than two hours.

With around 200 people taking part in the snowball fight, it was dubbed "the battle of Hyde Park" by one student on Twitter.

Organising any such gathering of more than 30 people is illegal and leaves organisers liable to a £10,000 fine under Coronavirus legislation.

The men were interviewed yesterday and today in relation to the incident and reported for fixed penalty notices to be issued against them.

The 23-year-old had previously received a fine for breaching restrictions in relation to mixing households at an address in Hyde Park in November.

Chief Superintendent Damien Miller, Leeds District Commander, said: “We take absolutely no pleasure in handing out such heavy fines to these two young men but their actions encouraged hundreds of people to be in close proximity to each other, creating a significant and completely unnecessary risk of increasing the spread of the virus.

“It was a blatant breach of the legislation that is in place to help keep people safe at what remains a critical time for us all.

“The event attracted understandable media attention and widespread public condemnation of all those who irresponsibly took part.

“That said, it remains clear that the vast majority of people recognise the need for collective responsibility and are continuing to stick with the regulations that are there to protect our families and our communities.

“We will continue our approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance but we won’t hesitate to enforce the law where people blatantly disregard the rules and put others at risk.”

Liam Ford, who lives nearby, shot a brief video after coming across the commotion while on a walk with his girlfriend.

The furloughed retail worker said: "With what's going on, I can't condone mass gatherings like that."

Hyde Park is a large public park north-west of Leeds city centre, within an inner-city residential area of the same name.

It is a hugely popular area with students and houses a large number of student digs.

Mr Ford added: "I've really come to appreciate going for a walk and having that time, I think these people have abused that.

"We were going for a walk in the park, it's literally around the corner from our house, and we heard all this commotion.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

"There were two groups of around 100 people each side, stood apart, charging at each other and throwing snowballs.

"I was stood there for a good ten minutes and there times when it quietened down and then picked back up again.

"It just shows a blatant disregard for the NHS and the strain it is under."