A BUSKER argued his case as police asked him to move on from his spot on Brighton seafront.

Paul Fitzgerald was performing near the i360 on Saturday, January 9, when he was asked to stop and pack up his things by patrolling officers.

Footage of the conversation has since been shared on social media and viewed more than 1,500 times.

Sussex Police have since confirmed that busking is “not considered a reasonable excuse” to leave the house under current lockdown laws as it “is not considered a business by Trading Standards”.

In the video, Paul echoes advice previously issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson regarding work during the coronavirus pandemic.

He says: “I’m here to work. You can go to work if you can’t work at home. I can’t do this at home.”

But officers reasoned that 1,000 people had died with Covid-19 the previous day and they were “doing everything we can to try and stop it infecting more people”.

They also expressed concerns regarding the number of people that had gathered around them during the discussion.

Paul has since told The Argus: “I am shocked and disgusted in how the police are now patrolling areas of Brighton where people are looking to escape the strides and chains we are now all too familiar with.

“The arts have been crushed, utterly destroyed, and a lot of people haven’t had any support from the government.

“All I had left to keep me going was busking, which I have done for 11 years.

“It might not be an official business in Trading Standards’ eyes, but it has been my livelihood for years now.”

The Argus: Paul was busking near the foot of the i360 when he was spoken to by policePaul was busking near the foot of the i360 when he was spoken to by police

Following the incident, The Argus asked Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council for their stance on busking in the city.

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “Police were patrolling along Brighton seafront when they stopped to engage with a man who was busking.

“Busking is not considered a business by Trading Standards or the local authority.

“As part of the current lockdown legislation, it is therefore not considered to be a reasonable excuse and does not fall within any of the exemptions to leave your home.

“Busking is also a high risk activity which increases the risk of spreading coronavirus by attracting groups of people to congregate.

“As such, Police Community Support Officers engaged with the gentleman, explained the rules and regulations and encouraged him to stop busking.

“Officers are continuing to follow the 4E’s approach and where there are serious breaches, enforcement will be taken.”

But, despite this, Paul said he would not stop busking.

“I will continue to busk, using Covid safety measures,” Paul said

He has not been issued a fine by poilce.

But he said that, if he was fined £200 for breaching Covid rules, this would mean he would have to busk more frequently - five days each week rather than two - to make the money back.

And, he added, busking had the added benefit of “spreading happiness and a well needed break from the mental turmoil” of the pandemic.