The mayor of Blackburn has stepped down and offered his “deepest apologies” after being fined £200 for breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Iftakhar Hussain was caught by police on Saturday at a house in Blackburn after a member of the public called to report a “wedding” on Saturday.

Hussain, a Labour councillor for the Bastwell area of Blackburn, which has had one of the highest Covid infection rates in the UK, apologised for what he said was a “momentary lapse of judgment”.

After news of his fine spread on the weekend, Hussain gave a baffling excuse to the Lancashire Telegraph, saying he had only gone “to open the door to the house so some food could be delivered”. He said he had been called to a relative’s house in Blackburn and realised all too belatedly he should have refused to attend.

On Monday he resigned, saying: “Given recent events, I have taken the decision to step down from my position as the mayor of Blackburn with Darwen with immediate effect. I believe this is the right thing to do and I no longer believe I can continue to serve as mayor to the best of my ability.

“I do not want to make any excuses; I regret the momentary lapse of judgment – I should have known better and I accept full responsibility for my actions. Being appointed as the mayor of Blackburn with Darwen during these difficult and unprecedented times has been challenging, but it has been a great honour to have served the residents of this great borough. It was a proud moment for me and my family.

“I want to give my deepest apologies over any breaking of restrictions. I hope my actions will serve as a reminder to the people of Blackburn with Darwen of the importance of following the Covid-19 guidelines as it remains a real and serious threat.”

The leader of the council, Mohammed Khan, said: “I have accepted Councillor Iftakhar Hussain’s resignation as mayor of the borough following the incident this weekend where he was found to be in breach of Covid restrictions. I know he deeply regrets this mistake. I would like to thank him for his dedicated service as mayor during this difficult year.”

A Lancashire police spokesperson confirmed there were reports of up to 30 people attending a wedding in Dukes Brow and added: “There they found nine people inside celebrating the wedding, including two residents of the address. Each individual was issued with a £200 fixed penalty notice and was instructed to leave, which they did.”

Hussain has been a councillor for Bastwell and Daisyfield ward since 2004 and became mayor last year.

A spokesman for Blackburn Conservative Association said Hussain had “done the right and honourable thing” in resigning.

This content first appear on the guardian

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