You might never have heard of him, but for 1.7m YouTube subscribers, 21 year old Ally Law is a big deal. He isn’t a gamer, nor is he offering make-up tutorials to the nation’s youth - instead, he’s part of a small cadre of YouTubers who devote their channels to pulling off some utterly nerve-wracking stunts.
Law will sometimes upload on an almost daily basis and most videos follow the same basic template of him and his pals sneaking into somewhere they shouldn’t be, and essentially causing mischief. Sometimes this is sneaking into a leisure centre or waterpark, and using the swimming pool after hours - and sometimes this is something truly death-defying, such as climbing to the roof of a building, or a crane.
Inevitably, many of his videos end with the police arriving, and Law either being arrested, released, or perhaps even successfully running away - not to mention plugging his merchandise store which sells t-shirts and hoodies containing his catchphrase, “It’s a madness”.
One such video that fits this template almost entirely was Law’s climb of the M48 Severn Crossing bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning on the 24th February earlier this year.
Today, Gizmodo UK can exclusively reveal that the stunt effectively cost the taxpayer “in the region of” £44,000, as Highways England, the agency which oversees the bridge, was forced to upgrade the security gates to prevent incidents like it in the future.
According to Highways England’s incident log from the day, the incident was first reported at 7:45am, Police were on the scene by 7:50am, and the incident was over 8:15am. As you can see from the below video, the incident ended when Law managed to successfully escape:
At the time of writing, the video has received nearly 5 million views, and has over 105,000 hits of the thumbs up button.
Highways England Spokesman for Severn Bridges, Chris Pope told us “We were deeply concerned by this incident, in which a group of people put their lives at serious risk, and we have since initiated a number of preventative measures.”
“One of the security gates was damaged on the main cable of the M48 Severn Bridge and the cost of the security upgrades we are currently implementing is around £44,000.”
In other words, it sounds as though Law and his pals caused a bit of a massive headache - and this is just one incident. We’ve also seen details of another stunt in which he erected a bouncy castle on the concourse of Waterloo station - suffice to say, while a fun viral video, caused a lot of paperwork behind the scenes, and required many of the staff who were there on the day to file incident reports to their managers.
So how does Law and his fellow urban explorers manage to get away with it? Amazingly, it turns out that climbing the bridge without permission - and most trespassing in general - isn’t actually a crime - but is a civil offence, which limits the options the authorities have.
The Highways Agency do tell us though that in this specific they are considering a civil prosecution as a course of action “as the incident has cost us in time, resource and effort, as well as that of Avon and Somerset Police.”
Perhaps Ally should consider chipping in with the cash from his merch sales?