Norfolk man’s dramatic stand-off over unpaid council tax
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A council tax dodger was arrested outside a Norwich court following a dramatic stand-off with officials because he claimed he was not a UK citizen and not liable to pay tax.
Mark Bond owes two years’ council tax to Broadland District Council totalling £2,211.
But the 44-year-old, who calls himself a “Freeman-on-the-Land” and goes under the name Mark of the Family Bond, does not accept he is liable to pay the council tax.
He was dramatically arrested outside the magistrates’ court building on Thursday as he took a cigarette break. Before he was led to the cells, he asked police under what authority he was being arrested and handed them a notice of intent stating that he was no longer a UK citizen. He told police that the notice had already been handed to the Queen and prime minister David Cameron.
He told police: “I will come peacefully but it’s under protest. I do not agree to this.” He had earlier arrived at court under summons to face a charge of failure to pay council tax. He refused to enter the court until District Judge Philip Browning answered his question: “Can I enter this court with my God-given, inalienable rights intact?”
Mr Browning did not reply to the question so Bond declined to enter the court room.
Mr Browning then said that if Bond stayed outside he would deal with the case in his absence, and he issued a warrant for his arrest without bail.
Bond said outside the court that he was willing to go to jail for his beliefs. The odd job man, who works from his home at Moulton St Mary, near Acle, and lives with his partner Beverley Clarke, said that he had paid taxes in the past, but had recently joined the “‘Freeman-on-the-Land” group, which was a worldwide organisation of people who had revoked consent to be governed by human laws.
He said: “At no time have I refused to pay the council tax. I have written to Broadland for proof of the bill, but it has ignored my request and just said that ‘You are going to pay’.”
When he appeared in custody later in the day, representing himself, he accepted “under duress” that he owed the council tax money, but said he had no income and did not claim benefits as he was no longer a UK citizen.
He was handed a suspended three-month jail sentence on condition that he pay £20 a week off the debt.
A Broadland Council spokesman said afterwards that Bond had sent several letters to the council asking for information about why he was liable to pay the council tax. The council had replied to all of them.
There were previous preliminary court hearings in March and September to establish that Bond did owe the money, the spokesman said.
Broadland’s local taxation manager, Simon Quilter, who prosecuted Bond, said: “Several officers have spoken to Mr Bond and explained the help he could receive if he has trouble paying the bill, although we are not aware that this is the case. We will always try and help people if they have difficulty, but at the end of the day, if they choose not to pay, they will end up in court.”
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