Oct 11 2012 by Caitlin Black, Harrow Observer
A PINNER magician to the stars has branded his conviction ‘ludicrous’ after being fined for selling novelty balloons on a street without a licence.
Michael Gee, of Cannonbury Avenue, Pinner, was caught by council officials selling animal shaped balloons on Westminster Bridge, central London, but argues he was not doing it for the money.
He admitted a single count of unlicensed street trading and was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday last week.
Commenting in a tongue in cheek manner, the 27-year-old told the Observer: “With everything going on in the country today, I’m so relieved that the justice system has its priorities right; who knows what horrors could have been perpetrated if I hadn’t been stopped.”
He added: “The whole thing is ludicrous. I can’t believe that I had to go to court.”
Gee, who is a frequent guest to the British Soap Awards and has performed in front of celebrities such as Barbara Windsor, Michael Bublé, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tom Jones, was spotted blowing up a balloon into a sword shape on August 1.
The episode unfolded five days after the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games during a massive crack-down on unauthorised street trading.
Although Gee insists he was only asking for tips, officials recorded him yelling: ‘Get your balloon – only £1’.
He told the Observer: “I was asked by a friend if I wanted to spend an afternoon performing magic and making balloon animals for tourists in Waterloo. It was a very hot day and I thought it would be a fun afternoon so I agreed to go.
“It’s not like I was doing it for the money, I just wanted to add to the happy and exciting atmosphere of the Olympics and, most importantly, make children smile.”
Gee, who has been working as a magician and ‘mind reader’ for more than 15 years, added: “Unfortunately, I was completely unaware that this was not allowed. Despite being ignorant of the law I’m willing to accept the consequences and move on.”
Ordering forfeiture of his possessions ‘only in relation to the balloons’, Deputy District Judge William Tate fined Gee £80, along with a £15 victim surcharge and £350 prosecution costs.
“I’ve taken account of your immediate guilty plea and I’ve seen your monthly income,” he said.
Representing himself, Gee admitted the offence but asked for the return of his magician’s kit.
He told the court: “There’s things in the case that mean a lot to me that I’ve collected over the years. There’s a very rare balloon pump given to me by a guy in the Magic Circle – it has very great sentimental value, and there are some leather cases that were handmade, a leather card case.
“It’s several hundred pounds’ worth of equipment, including the actual suitcase, which belongs to my parents.”
* To discover Michael Gee’s magic go to www.michaelgeemagic.com.