Police ‘march’ into golf pro’s home threatening a fine after he legally played in Dubai

News

Police “marched” into a golf pro’s home after he had returned there having played in a tournament in Dubai.

Oliver Pantoja followed government rules when he dashed back to the UK after less than 24 hours in the Middle Eastern country, where he had teed off at the Trump International resort.

Despite abiding by the Covid restrictions, the father-of-two was threatened with a fine when officers came to his four-bedroom detached home in Irlam, Greater Manchester.

The 39-year-old, who lives with wife Louise and their two children Harvey, 16, and Phoebe, 12, says the accusations levelled at him by the police are at odds with government guidance.

Recovering breast cancer sufferer, Louise, 49, said: “The police just marched into my house.

“My children were terrified; it was really upsetting.

“I told them we had stuck to the government guidelines and that Oliver had not broken any rules.

“They said they were working to Border Force rules and that he had broken them.

“They threatened us with a potential hefty fine and arrest.

“I asked them how I can find or check these rules and if I could check this with Border Force but was told I couldn’t as they did not communicate with the public, only police.

“They told me I would have to escalate this to an official complaint and instruct a solicitor to check border force rules.

“He (Oliver) suffered sleep deprivation, immense stress and anxiety and was not even sure he’d be able to get home.”

Louise said her husband “followed all the rules”.

“We did everything by the book, but we still had the police at our door,” she continued.

“It was terrifying. I felt powerless in my own home.”

Oliver, who coaches and plays in tournaments as resident professional at Ashton-on-Mersey Golf club in the leafy suburb of Sale, Greater Manchester, paid £1400 for flights and accommodation for one day on the championship course, before flying home.

He said: “I’m a golf professional so playing golf is work.

“I flew to Dubai on Wednesday and returned less than 24 hours later after cutting my trip short to follow the most recent government guidelines. I barely left the hotel.

“I had two negative Covid tests six days apart and discovered at the airport that my rearranged flight had been cancelled just an hour after arranging it, and I would have to fly to Birmingham then commute.

“I flew home and landed in the UK prior to the travel ban being implemented.

“Then two police officers hammered on my door telling me I had broken the law and threatened me with arrest and a fine.

“This is completely at odds with the government guidance on their website.

“I complained to an Inspector to obtain clarification.

“He said they were not acting on the government guidelines but border force instructions which are not available to the public and suggested we seek legal advice if we needed further clarification.”

Oliver questioned how he could comply with instructions if he was unable to read them.

“He was unable to offer any clarity aside from asking a solicitor to help us interpret the .gov guidelines,” the golfer continued.

“If our entire household has to isolate, we will lose two incomes, have no way of obtaining prescriptions and my wife is recovering from breast cancer.

“Had we known this before I went, I would never have gone.

“The level of misinformation and clarity is staggering, and I believe that the local authority and government need to be held to account.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “Between Saturday 30 January 2021 and Monday 1 February 2021, police were alerted by Public Health to three reports of a potential breach of Covid- 19 legislation at an address in Manchester.

“Officers attended and established that there was no breach of legislation at this address.”