In my previous post on Roger Hayes, the Chair of the British Constitution Group, and his recent trip to prison, someone commented that Roger Hayes’ outfit had posted the following message:

“Roger Hayes was visited in prison this morning by Danny Bamping, who took an affidavit from Roger in which he makes it clear he received no summons or invitation to the hearing which resulted in the arrest warrant being issued.

Roger also makes it clear he was given no opportunity to speak at the unlisted secret court hearing – a hearing which lasted just long enough to the judge to utter the sentence.

Danny and his team will submit an application for Habeas Corpus tomorrow morning, at the High Court in Manchester, which can be found in the new “Civil Justice Centre”.

The application will be heard under “Supreme Court Order 54″.”

As that was last week and we have heard no more about about it, I shall assume that what I predicted has come to pass – the judge told Danny Bamping (who is not a lawyer) that he was being daft.

I have written to Wirral Magistrates’ Court to ask them the actual details of this case. Their response is below, and makes it very clear that what has happened to Roger Hayes is not some exciting tale of conspiracy and Stalinist machinations to silence a warrior for the truth, but the inevitable wheels of state machinery turning against anyone who refuses to pay their council tax.

I would point people especially to the part which states that “the hearing … was in public and to which the press were entitled to have access”, and “An application for committal to prison for unpaid council tax can only be made to a magistrates’ court”. So it wasn’t “secret”, or exceptional, and Hayes wasn’t tried without a jury because he wasn’t tried at all, or convicted, or accused of a crime – he’s in prison as an enforcement measure, and is apparently going to stay there until he pays his council tax.

I won’t get into what I consider to be the insanity of arguing that Parliament has no authority to pass the legislation allowing people to be imprisoned without trial by jury, other than to note that the power of a magistrate to imprison disruptive individuals at their own discretion has existed for at least 800 years. Whether you believe that council tax is legal or not (and personally if we’re going to live under a state I don’t really mind paying some to have someone come collect my bin and sweep my streets), the fact is that Roger Hayes is in prison for deliberately withholding it and ignoring all and every attempt to get him to pay it. This is not the scandal my Facebook feed would apparently like it to be.

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