A MAN appeared in court last week charged with being one of the organisers of the ‘Unite the North’ anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown protest held in Bradford earlier this year.

Amar Sattar, 35, of Fell Lane, Keighley, pleaded not guilty to the charge of holding or being involved in holding a gathering of more than 30 people on specific outdoor land in a Tier 4 area.

The charge relates to the Unite the North protest held in Bradford city centre on March 27, when hundreds of people descended on the city from across the north to protest against Covid-19 lockdowns and the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

It’s alleged that Sattar was involved in the organisation of the event, and is in breach of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020.

Sattar, who appeared at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court on Friday wearing glasses and a long-sleeved white shirt, clean shaven and with short hair, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth and to enter his not guilty plea.

His defence solicitor, Sajad Chaudhury, told the court that Sattar “does not dispute being present at the assembly protesting his views, but disputes being an organiser”.

Mr Chaudhury continued: “He says he has tried to assist the police when they have approached him at his home about the event.

“It was an assembly he was attending to voice concerns about various issues - the treatment of the NHS, awarding of PPE contracts, and vaccinations.

“It was different groups and sectors coming together, there is no evidence of this Unite the North group organising the event.”

A trial date for Sattar has been set for October 20 due to take place at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court, with a case management hearing due to take place in Bradford on September 3, and Sattar has been granted unconditional bail.

A second man was also due in court on Friday charged with attending the protest.

Nathaniel Joseph, 41, from Wetherby, failed to turn up for his hearing, and his case has been adjourned until June 25.

His solicitor told the court: “He was aware of the hearing but I cannot give an explanation for his absence; he would have pleaded not guilty.”

Hundreds of people - some from the district but many travelling to the district from across the north - came to Bradford city centre for the protest in March, while the country was under a strict national lockdown to try and fight the third wave of Covid-19 sweeping the country.

This third lockdown had seen schools closed once again and non-essential businesses forced to close to stop the spread of Covid and to allow the vaccination programme to press ahead giving the most vulnerable people in society protection from the virus.

In the protest, nine police officers were injured and 13 people were arrested, while 19 received on the spot fines and dispersal orders were issued.

It began in City Park before moving towards Morley Street and up Great Horton Road.

During the protest, which was largely peaceful, some people attempted to break into a vaccination centre but were stopped by police.

Promotional material ahead of the protest said it was taking a stance against lockdown, and stood for: “no to the vax agenda; no to health passes; no to gov corruption; no to lockdowns.”

It also said: “No vaccine needed. I have my immune system.”

The January to March lockdown played a massive role in bringing down levels of infection across England caused by the rapid spread of the Kent variant, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients requiring urgent treatment.

The Covid-19 vaccine has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of serious illness. So far more than 41 million people have been vaccinated, with 29 million fully protected from Covid - more than half of all adults in the UK.