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World News

'Like the Stasi': UK lawmaker slams COVID-era snooping

FILE PHOTO: A police officer looks on as a commuter wearing a protective face mask leaves a train at Waterloo underground station during the morning rush hour, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - A British lawmaker photographed by a member of the public travelling in London without a face mask has said the COVID-19 pandemic is fostering a culture of snooping that recalls East Germany under the Stasi secret police.

Britain has imposed stringent measures to fight a second wave of COVID-19, though there are growing calls from some businesses and lawmakers for more scrutiny of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decisions.

Sammy Wilson, a lawmaker for Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, was photographed travelling on the London underground without a face mask just days after Johnson introduced a 200-pound ($255) penalty for not wearing a mask.

“I didn’t have a mask on, should have had it on and am offering no excuse,” Wilson said.

“But it is sad that we have now become like East Germany under the Stasi where members of the public think it is acceptable to act as snoops,” he added.

“Whoever took the picture didn’t approach me or say anything to me which I suppose would have been the proper way to behave.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Gareth Jones

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