Tuesday, March 8, 2011

UK Protesters Try to Make Citizens' Arrest of a Judge Over Council Tax

600 protesters descended on the county court in Birkenhead (which sits opposite of the city of Liverpool) in support of a man challenging his council tax bill, and attempted to make citizens' arrest of the presiding judge.

Council tax is basically a property tax assessed by the local governments in the UK, but unlike the property tax in the US where the property owners pay the tax, anyone who actually live on the property has to pay the council tax. It could be the owner who lives there, or it could be the tenant. It was introduced in 1993 by the then-prime minister John Major.

From UK's Daily Mail (3/8/2011):

Hundreds of protesters stormed a courtroom and attempted to make a citizens' arrest on a judge in support of a man challenging his council tax bill.

In chaotic scenes, police rescued Judge Michael Peake from the clutches of a mob and escorted him safely from the County Court in Birkenhead, Merseyside.

Officers were force to scramble over court benches to control the near riot as one protester shouted to 'seal the court'. Another sat in the judge's chair at the head of the court and declared the defendant be released.

Deafening cheers and chants could be heard from the crowd outside the courts and demonstrators used mobile phones to film arrests being made.

The protesters were from the anti-establishment British Constitution Group (BGC).

The demonstration was sparked when a prominent voice in the BCG, Roger Hayes, from Wirral, faced a bankruptcy hearing for non-payment of council tax.

Around 600 chanting demonstrators had massed around the court in support of Mr Hayes. Roads were blockaded and dozens of police officers deployed to keep order.

After exchanges between Mr Hayes and the judge, protesters watching from the public gallery charged at Mr Peake to make a civil arrest, chanting 'arrest that judge'.

A stand-off followed with several demonstrators staging a sit-down protest in front of police vehicles, refusing to let them pass. Several arrests were made and police dog-handlers called to the scene.

As he emerged from the court surrounded by his supporters, Mr Hayes said: 'The judges are breaking the law in their own courts. I asked him [Mr Peake] if he was serving under his oath of office.

'I asked three times for him to confirm this and he refused, so I civilly arrested the judge and I called upon some people in the court to assist me in this.

'[The protesters] were acting lawfully and the police should not have arrested them.'

The BCG's main aim is a rallying call for 'lawful rebellion.' Leaflets handed out by the crowd said: 'We, the British People have a right to govern ourselves.


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