ALL charges against three men accused of disrupting work at the Poppleton Covid testing station during the peak of the pandemic last winter have been dropped.

Their trial at York Magistrates Court collapsed when prosecution witnesses refused to attend court and the lack of a police statement meant a video of the three allegedly taken at the station couldn’t be shown to the court.

Marti Blagborough, 28, of Stonecliffe View, Leeds, Arthur Taylor, 62, of Wesley Street, South Elmsall, and Edward Warren, 61, of Deanfield Avenue, Morley, were formally acquitted of a charge of aggravated trespass.

Mr Blagborough was also formally acquitted of using threatening words or behaviour.

They had denied all charges.

All three were arrested outside the testing station on January 11 after staff there called in police.

The defendants were accused of being abusive towards staff and of filming members of the public at the Covid testing station.

They were alleged to have intended to obstruct or disrupt the testing operation.

On the day they were arrested, more than 1,100 people a day in the UK were dying after testing positive for Covid.

The country was under complete lockdown with everyone confined to their homes under a "Stay at Home" rule.

Case rates in Acomb and west York were more than double the national average and the city’s public health team was preparing to take urgent action to tackle the situation.

Following the acquittals, Mr Blagborough made a film of himself outside Fulford Road Police Station in which he made comments about North Yorkshire Police, and posted it online.

A CPS spokesperson said: “Before the trial date, two of the three prosecution witnesses decided they no longer supported the case and informed us that they would not attend the trial.

“The CPS decided that the case could still proceed to trial with the one remaining witness.

"However, on the day of trial this witness did not attend court and could not be contacted by telephone.

"Without this witness the CPS needed to rely on video footage and photographs.

"The defence solicitor informed the prosecutor that they wished to raise queries at the trial about where the video footage and photographs originated from.

“The CPS requested an adjournment so that arrangements could be made for the police officer who could answer these queries to attend court.

"This application was refused by the judge.

"As a result the CPS concluded that there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, and we therefore offered no evidence.”

North Yorkshire Police declined to comment.

The trial date was set in March at the first hearing of the case.