Friday 8th October 2010 – A Friday October morning at the Magistrates` Court in the small Welsh town of Brecon seems an unlikely setting for a case that promises to have a fundamental effect on the entire British legal and tax-collecting system. Amongst the usual run-of-the-mill cases that turn up in a small rural community was one involving Powys Council`s application over the non-payment of Council Tax, issued against John Hurst and his wife Tina.
Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, John Hurst is no free-loader. He is a highly responsible and patriotic citizen, a former police officer with an impressive record. His decision not to pay is based on thorough research indicating that councils have no legal right whatsoever to levy such a tax on its citizens. Believing this to be true, John would have therefore committed an offence by actually paying the tax, as the majority of us already have. Given that ignorance of the law is no defence, it places the overwhelming majority of hitherto respectable British citizens in an invidious situation and the courts in an even worse one.
John, a committed supporter of Lawful Rebellion, arrived at the court with his wife, along with her Mackenzie Friend. The court official took down the details but then returned some time later stating that Tina Hurst’s case was no longer listed. This was an extremely odd development, given that Tina is registered disabled with visual impairment and would have hence qualified for a Council Tax rebate, which had not been awarded and for legal aid should she decide to take the case further. It would appear that suspicions of skulduggery would not be entirely unfounded. The official was challenged over this and shortly afterwards brought out a more senior figure, a pleasant young man, who invited the little party into a private office. There he declared that on checking his information, Tina Hurst was on the list after all!
Much later, the group was invited into Court. John Hurst, representing himself, immediately questioned as to why there were only two magistrates on the bench instead of the required three. The Council`s solicitor stated that he had to agree but that this was not contentious. John immediately retorted that it was and insisted on exercising his legal right to have three magistrates present. The court officials had to concede and the group was asked to leave the Court whilst a third magistrate be found.
Amongst John Hurst’s contentions, was the fact that this court had no jurisdiction to make a firm decision on his case. Therefore, it was welcome when the council solicitor appeared, telling John that the court had decided that the matter should be passed to the Court in Llandrindod Wells for trial on Friday 5th November at ten a.m.
The group re-entered the Court shortly afterwards for the formal decision to be announced, but John consequently and successfully challenged the by now hapless and bewildered clerk of the court over a number of legal and procedural issues.
It was not all over, as John stated that he had not yet received disclosure of the Council`s documents. The Council`s solicitor conceded that they had only been posted on 29th September, two days earlier. The clerk then stated that in order to enable Counsel to examine the Hurst’s skeleton argument, the time of the coming hearing would be delayed by thirty minutes. John immediately stated that he failed to understand how this would allow Counsel to assimilate the information as it consisted of thirty pages. The clerk again seemed baffled by this, as she was unaware of this attachment. The Council`s solicitor was immediately questioned and became somewhat incoherent. He asked if John had actually sent the documents with the attachment, to the Council. John stated that he had and furthermore had a printed e-mail acknowledgement from the Council to prove it.
Hence, it was established that the Council`s solicitor must have knowingly or recklessly failed to disclose vital evidence to the Court, a criminal offence.
The Court was hastily concluded and the officials and the solicitor were assured that a formal complaints would be issued, including one to the police requesting the arrest and charge of Powys Council`s solicitor for withholding evidence from the Court, which, moreover, would have not have been discovered but for the unfortunate clerk`s statement.
It must be said that John Hurst`s performance in Court was magnificent, assured, authoritative and knowledgeable at all times, invariably leaving the court, including the magistrates, trailing along hopelessly out of their collective depth. He and his wife deserve every possible support for their courageous stand, which is an important stepping stone on the way to exposing the inefficiency, unlawful conduct and even possible corruption on the part of those responsible for administering our legal system and the behaviour of other state-funded officials, particularly in this instance, those employed by Powys Council.
This court report was originally written by journalist Robert Green.