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The Peace Tax Seven

The Rogue's Gallery

A catalogue of recent war tax resistance


There are many stories about war tax resisters which all deserve mention, but Doug Barker has broken the publicity barrier with his determination to withhold 10% of his taxes, destined for the government killing machine.

He first went before Chippenham Magistrate’s Court in December. The chief magistrate made the inspired decision to threaten him with imprisonment if he did not pay. Although Doug had done a good job alerting the media beforehand, this must have helped and certainly he hit the jackpot as regards timing. The next day he was on the front page of The Independent with Maya Evans who had been sentenced on the same day for reading the names of the 98 soldiers killed in Iraq. Also with Flight Lieutenant Malcom Kendall-Smith who was being courts marshalled for refusing to return to Iraq on the conscientious grounds that he believed the war to be illegal. The headline WAR CRIMINALS trumpeted above their heads. Since then they can’t leave Doug alone and he has had more coverage in the Telegraph (07/02 and 12/02), local TV and papers over his recent appearance to contest a distraint order.

Doug gave an interesting argument on his second appearance to the effect that he is being asked to fund an illegal act and that surely his human rights were being infringed by being made to conspire with it. It seems the magistrates are not even empowered to prevent what amounts to an illegal act under international law. This seems to be at odds with the principle established at Nuremburg in the late 1940's.


Robin Brookes is very grateful to all those who came and supported him at Swindon County Court on 3 April this year. 22 supporters came from Gloucester, Bradford on Avon, Southampton, Devizes as well as Swindon Stop the War and Swindon Quakers.

Apart from the officious security man, who didn't want banners on court property and who then rang the police, all were politely accommodated, if not to say welcomed in a Court 3. Robin was going to be heard in chambers so the supporters would have been unable to come in. However, they moved to the courtroom so all could bear witness.

The judge listened politely to Robin's defence in which he pointed out that he was not trying to evade taxes, that he wished to pay all of his taxes and contribute to the all the services which make our society civilized - health care, education, environment and indeed the law and the police. He put paid to the 'use the ballot box' argument pointing out that the this is not open to minority groups such as ours. Ours is a human rights case and he said that until the Peace Tax Seven case is heard, surely no-one should be made to pay for war preparations. He pointed out that the money is in a designated account for the IR when they can assure him that it will not be used for war preparations.

The judge noted there were many supporters and he said he had respect for our views. However, as expected, he has no powers to say where the money should be spent and since Robin admitted that he owed the money, the judge had no choice but to make an enforcement order. He was given until the 5th of May to pay.


Robin Brookes led 30 peace tax campainers through Swindon on 5th May, carrying a mock drain reading: 'Taxes for War - Immoral and Theft from a World in Need - Money Down the Drain'. His supporters each carried symbols and placards decrying the misuse of our taxes and stating better ways to spend the money. Each carried £20 as bearers of the debt. When they got outside the IR Recovery Office Robin read out a letter of protest which drew attention to the fact that a great many object to paying for war but most have their hands tied. Everyone then endorsed the letter with their signature and posted the money down the 'drain' before paying it in and delivering the letter. Some gave money towards the debt, so Robin donated the same amount to the cause which that campaigner feels is a better way to spend the money. Consequently £240 has been distributed among Peace Direct, Water Aid, Conscience, Forgiveness Project, Orbis, Oxford Research Group, Cedar Centre and PT7. Perhaps this is a new type of money laundering!

"I thought it was important to involve other peace tax campaigners in a protest which showed that it is not just me and few others who object to paying for the government's killing machine. There are many more who are simply not in a position to resist paying taxes but morally object just as much."

Dr Lis Davidson made a similar demonstration in Liverpool city centre. She was supported by many other campaigners including Sian Cwper of PT7. They handed out PT7 appeal leaflets in Derby Square and talked to passers by and the press.

This is the 4th time Lis has paid under protest; "As a GP I have an ethic that says I shouldn't go around killing people and so why should I be forced to fund this activity that I disagree with."

"In Liverpool, they don't threaten to jail you, they just send the bailiffs. So I can't become a sacrificial prisoner, although I am going to withhold the interest they say I owe and I am willing to go to court to defend that decision."

Both events were very well covered in the local media.


The day before Marie Walsh appeared before magistrates in Abergavenny, she walked with supporters from Oakdale to the Welsh town.

She writes: "The peace walk (about 21 miles it turned out) was well worth it for the response we received.. even tho' the last 4 or 5 miles were really hard going. Special thanks to those who walked with me.. six of us set off from Oakdale, by half way we were down to 4, and 2 of us arrived in Abergavenny around 7.30pm! Lots of toots of support and positive comments along the way. We are very grateful to the comrades who looked after us so well when we arrived, with tea, herbal footbaths, a lovely meal and bed!

"In court on Tuesday, as predicted, the magistrates found my arguments beyond their remit. i.e. I argued that the Inland Revenue are unlawful in trying to collect tax from me until I am assured the right to act according to my conscience and abstain from paying for war. And they decided, that having called me to court, they could't take my arguments into consideration. So leaving it to the European court to debate the Human Rights issue, they made a Liability Order.. that means.. well, not a lot really.. apparently they will have to take me back to court again to get an Order for Distraint (for bailiffs).

"Next time I'll argue that if I am breaking the law, it is to prevent a greater crime being committed. This argument has been successful for peace activists and anti-nuclear campaigners.. but not yet in peace tax cases.

"Thanks again for your support.. it means alot to know I'm not on my own in this. And I'll let you know how the next stage goes."

Marie had many supporters at the court including Cor Cochion who sang outside and in!

Simon Heywood appeared at the County Court in Sheffield on Monday 9th October for refusing to pay his taxes. He said, "Things went as expected. It was a very short perfunctory hearing because the court and revenue officials don't have much freedom of choice even if they wanted it. The judge confirmed that I have to pay £463.09 tax and interest and gave me 21 days (till 30 Oct) to think about it. So I am thinking about it. About 1 dozen people turned up for support which made the whole thing go really well."

Simon and his supporters are considering forming a more permanent affinity group and will probably set up a meeting in Sheffield fairly soon.

Simon eventually paid under protest because relatives were threatening to pay it if he didn't! Not wanting things to end like a damp squib he rallied a few supporters and went and paid with a giant 'blood' stained cheque.