An MP has complained the UK has become “like East Germany under the Stasi” after he was photographed on the London Underground without a face mask.
DUP politician Sammy Wilson was pictured by a member of the public without a face covering as he travelled on the tube days after the government increased fines for failing to wear a mask on public transport to £200.
Asked about the picture, Mr Wilson, who has previously described face coverings as “muzzles", admitted he “should have had it on” and was "offering no excuse".
But he went on to hit out at the member of the public who photographed him without his face covering.
"I didn't have a mask on, should have had it on and am offering no excuse 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 said.
"Whoever took the picture didn't approach me or say anything to me which I suppose would have been the proper way to behave."
Home secretary Priti Patel and health secretary Matt Hancock have previously urged the public to inform police if they witness their neighbours breaching self-isolation rules or social gathering limits designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Mr Wilson’s party leader, the Northern Irish first minister Arlene Foster, said everyone was “equally subject to the law” after the photograph of the MP emerged.
Asked at a Stormont Executive press conference, she said: "Sammy has made a statement in relation to that matter.
"But just for clarity, I want to say this as clearly as I can, everyone is subject to the law, everyone is equally subject to the law and equal under the law.
"So it is important that we remember that, and that is the position of the DUP."
Noting she had not yet spoken to Mr Wilson about the matter, Ms Foster added: “Everybody has to abide by the law and take the consequences as well as not abiding by those laws”.
It comes after Conservative MP Danny Kruger was forced to apologise after being photographed in a similar situation on London transport.
Mr Kruger, David Cameron's former speechwriter, said in a statement: "I boarded an almost empty carriage at Hungerford and quite simply forgot to put on my mask.
"When I got to Paddington I realised my mistake and covered up for the rest of my journey.
"If the person had reminded me rather than taking a photo and posting it on social media I would of course have put on my mask then and there.
"I do apologise for my mistake."
Additional reporting by PA