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  1. The following is a short extract from a press report in today's Daily Telegraph regarding the Reverend Paul Nicolson's forthcoming court appearance at Tottenham Magistrates Court: By the end of next week, Paul Nicolson could be facing prison and bankruptcy – an unexpected turn of events for an 84-year-old retired vicar who has never previously been in this type of trouble. On 15 June, he will appear at Tottenham magistrates court in north London for non-payment of council tax since 2013: he owes £2,831.42. Meanwhile, he must decide what to do about the £47,000 in costs awarded against him last month after he lost, in the high court, a case he brought against Haringey council over the level of court charges imposed on residents for non-payment of council tax. It is all a great deal of money that he doesn’t have, but he appears to be delighted at the potential scandal that the imprisonment of a retired vicar could stir up, and the useful attention that his case could bring to a little-understood aspect of welfare reform. “I am really not in the slightest bit afraid of prison,” Nicolson says. He is looking forward to his court appearance, where he will have the opportunity to explain why he has decided not to pay his bills. “One of the joys of refusing to pay,” he says, is that there is a “wonderful opportunity” to tell the story of why the 2013 abolition of a centralised council tax benefit has had such catastrophic consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Tottenham’s magistrates would be wise to steel themselves for Nicolson’s 10 o’clock appearance in the dock, because his arguments are likely to be delivered with the mesmerisingly stern precision of a 1940s BBC newsreader. A group of protesters are due to gather outside the court in support of his campaign. http://www.theguardian.com/global/2016/jun/08/vicar-dibley-paul-nicolson-council-tax-refusing-benefit-cuts-jail-prison?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Scoop
  2. In 2015 there was a important and high profile Judicial Review regarding the serious matter of summons costs in relation to a Liability Order for council tax arrears. The case was that of the Reverend Paul Nicholson v Tottenham Magistrates and the London Borough of Haringey. In short, the court rules that Tottenham Magistrate's should not have allowed London Borough of Haringey to claim summons costs of £125 for each Liability Order given that the court did not have sufficient information before them to reach a proper judicial determination as to whether or not the costs claimed represented costs reasonably incurred by the Council in obtaining the liability order; 
The court found that Tottenham Magistrates Court erred in law by failing to make further inquiries into how the £125 was calculated. Accordingly, J Andrews ruled that the costs claimed were unlawful. Following Reverend Nicholson's court success, there have been a lot of developments. Firstly, Haringey's Council's external auditors; Grant Thornton reviewed the level of costs, and, unlike the position before the Judicial Review where Haringey charged a fee of £125, the auditors instructed the council to charge separate costs of £102 for a summons and to reduce the charge for a liability order issued by Tottenham Magistrates to £110 from £125. Most importantly, Haringey Council have refused to make Grant Thornton's report public. The judgement made clear that it related only to London Borough of Haringey and was specific only to Reverend Nicholson's case. Accordingly, whist it may allow him to claim a refund for any earlier years, it did not assist the many thousands (approx 20,000) of Haringey residents who had been overcharged every year since 2008. It was with this in mind, that the Reverend made a further application to the High Court. The basis of this new application being that he wished to challenge Grant Thornton's decision not to apply to the court for a declaration that an item of account is contrary to law under section 17(1) of the Audit Commission Act 1998. The Reverend considers that an audit is a public interest activity. Secondly, the Reverend wanted everyone who has been overcharged since 2008 to be repaid. His appeal was heard in the Divisional Court last Thursday (24th February). A copy of the press release and background to his dispute with Haringey Council is below. I will address the outcome of the appeal in a separate post. http://www.taxpayersagainstpoverty.o...paul-nicolson/
  3. He was supposed to have met a couple of weeks ago with the auditors with a view to working out if the £125 level of court costs could be justified in terms of Council Tax (administration and Enforcement) Regulation 34(5) & (7). He has been posting other material on his Taxpayers Against Poverty website so presumably they have not incarcerated him but have they got to him to keep him quiet on this matter?
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