A self-employed man appeared in court today (Wednesday, November 4) after refusing to pay tax he believes was being unlawfully collected by the council.
Leslie Reaney, 62, of Park Road, Bexhill, initially said he would not pay off more than £2,700 in unpaid council tax.
But after the court hearing at Hastings Magistrates’ Court, he backed down, offering to pay £15 a month starting from the end of this month.
The court heard Reaney owed £2,763.93 in total, a debt amassed over three years.
Robert Eaton, representing Rother District Council, said: “Enormous amounts of effort have been expedited by council officers to try and have a dialogue with Mr Reaney but there has been obstruction on his part.
“The council has offered to send him relevant forms for council tax reduction and tried to find out whether some sort of instalments system can be set up. But he refused to engage with the authority.”
He told magistrates offers of help had ‘consistently been thrown in [Rother District Council’s] face’.
Mr Eaton added: “We have really reached a stage at which there is no other alternative other than coming to court. This is a wilful refusal to pay.”
Representing himself during the hearing, Reaney said: “I am a human being under common law, the Queen’s law. Council tax is contract law and is a statute.
“Statutes are acts which are given the force of law by the government. I have never been contracted by the council therefore I do not recognise that I owe this debt. This paperwork the council sends out is unlawful and the courts are not run by the judiciary.
“We have the council making up numbers and sending out fraudulent paperwork. Rother District Council is a corporation and not part of the government.
“I find this court totally unlawful. I am not wilfully refusing to pay but concerned I am not being treated fairly.”
Reaney told magistrates he was struggling to survive financially at the moment, as he was self-employed. “I have not got a penny,” he said.
At one point, the hearing was adjourned as Reaney was advised to seek advice from the duty solicitor but he continued to represent himself.
Magistrates gave him a 100-day prison sentence, suspended, and ordered him to pay £15 a month towards the bill.
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