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  • Council Tax protestor 'dismisses' case against himself after row over camera at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court
  • By Aled Thomas
  • 27/10/2014 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: James ( 1 article in 2014 )
A protestor ‘dismissed’ the court case against him in extraordinary scenes at Cheltenham Magistrates court yesterday.

James Steel, also known as Sandy, was summonsed to the court by Cotswold District Council for non- payment of council tax on his home in Poulton near Cirencester.

When proceedings begun Mr Steel set up a digital camera to record the case.

This is against the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and Criminal Justice Act of 1925. When court officials told Mr Steel to give up the camera he refused and said: “This is a public place. Under common law I am entitled to hold a camera which is my property.

“It might be illegal under statute law which lawyers, magistrates, judges and politicians pass but statue law must be assented to and I don’t assent to it.”

The three magistrates on the bench retired, accompanied by their legal advisor.

A security guard attempted to take the camera but Mr Steel refused to surrender it. He said: “I don’t recognise the authority of this court. The magistrates have left, I am the most senior person in the courtroom, so I will dismiss the case against me. Case dismissed.”

With that, Mr Steel left the court with his two supporters.

But Mr Steel, had planned to present his complaint, entitled “28 Theses Disputing the Legality and Ethicacy of Taxes Levied by Today’s Party Political Class” to the court.

He said: “It used to be the custom that you presented your legal complaints to the magistrates, so I was going to give this to the court. Walking out means I can’t do that now, but I still plan on presenting it to the court somehow.”

A spokesman for Cotswold District Council said: “The council has been granted a liability order by the Court. The liability order authorises us to write to Mr Steel again and ask him to settle his council tax arrears. If he fails to do so, we can pass this matter to enforcement agents.”

An HM Courts & Tribunals Service spokesperson said: "A hearing was briefly interrupted this morning while security staff reminded a defendant that it is illegal to photograph or film court proceedings. The defendant left the building and the proceedings continued in his absence."

It is understood that further action by the court is unlikely.


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