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Haringey priest loses latest round in legal battle over council tax

12 August 2016


"Not warned": the Revd Paul Nicolson outside the High Court in London, in February

"Not warned": the Revd Paul Nicolson outside the High Court in London, in February

A RETIRED priest who, since 2013, has refused to pay his council tax, has lost a case against Haringey Council.

The Revd Paul Nicolson has argued that residents who do not pay council tax, or are late in paying it, are being over-charged by the council, and that many of them cannot afford to pay the tax, let alone court costs.

Last week, Tottenham Magistrates’ Court ruled that he must pay £2831.42 to the council. In an online statement, Mr Nicolson said that he was refusing to pay this “in solidarity with, and because of, the damage the tax is doing to the health of very badly off residents of Haringey — some of whom have had their income stopped by a benefit sanction.

“Meanwhile Haringey Council continues to tax the benefit incomes of its poorest residents, adding court costs, sending in the bailiffs, ignoring mental and physical ill-health, the short life-span, the low birth-weight, food and fuel poverty, in some of the most deprived wards in the UK.”

Mr Nicolson is to appeal against the latest ruling. He accuses the magistrates in Tottenham of “rubber-stamping” liability orders issued by the council to late and non-payers, adding court costs of £115, “totally ignorant of their vulnerable circumstances”. He disputes the way that the charge is calculated, arguing that it is unjust to charge corporate overheads.

He will also argue that he was not warned that a representative of Haringey Council would be giving oral evidence to the magistrate, and that, as a partially deaf man, he was unable to hear her explanation about how the liability order is calculated, or to cross-examine her.

Earlier this year, a High Court found in favour of Haringey Council’s external auditors, whose calculation of costs charged to late and non-payers was disputed by Mr Nicolson. He is appealing against an order to pay the auditors’ costs of £50,000. Last year, a High Court judge ruled that the £125 liability order handed down to Mr Nicolson after he refused to pay his council tax was unlawful, because the magistrates had been unable to provide information about how the cost had been determined.

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