'The war is illegal. I can't pay for a government killing machine'

A man has vowed to go to prison rather than pay taxes which he believes would fund a "blatantly illegal war" in Iraq.

Robin Brookes, 52, appeared at Swindon County Court for refusing to pay a £580 income tax bill. Describing an imminent seizure of his goods as "blood money", the doll's house designer, from Market Lavington in Wiltshire, said: "I don't want to break the law, and I want to contribute to education and health, the law and the police force, but I cannot pay for a government's killing machine.

"The Iraq war is illegal and it is against the will of the people, which was amply demonstrated by people marching in London. I have been withholding taxes since the March 2003 invasion."

Mr Brookes, who believes that 10 per cent of all tax is used by the Government to fund the military, was told by magistrates on Monday that bailiffs would seize his goods on 5 May unless he paid up.

Mr Brookes is withholding the £580 which, along with £550 that he has already been forced to pay, he says represents 10 per cent of all tax he has paid since the invasion.

His two children, Clare, 26, and Oliver, 25, were fully behind his stance, Mr Brookes said: "Having invaded and made a complete mess of Iraq, the British and American troops have no place there - we've totally messed it up and should get out. People live in fear of crime and kidnapping. To get one man [Saddam], there have been tens of thousands of deaths."

He would not put up any "physical resistance" when the bailiffs arrive and was happy to go to jail if they failed to recover enough property to cover the debt.

"Why should I worry?" he said. "It's the poor devils in Iraq I am concerned about. Their houses are bombed, they live in fear, their communities are in ruins. I don't seek to decide where the money should go. It could go on education or health or perhaps into a non-violent conflict resolution."

He appeared in court three years ago over his refusal to pay taxes. In October 2003, magistrates in Chippenham told Mr Brookes he was able to express his opinion through the ballot box and gave him three months to pay £550. Bailiffs seized the money from Mr Brookes' home, where he lives with his wife Gil, in January 2004. He had pinned the money to a board, over which he wrote a banner stating: "Every 10 seconds, Britain spends this much on occupying Iraq."

Mr Brookes is part of the "peace tax seven", a group of men and women who have all refused to pay their taxes towards what they believe is an illegal war.

They want a peace tax fund to be established into which pacifists can pay they taxes towards peaceful uses, such as education and health and non-violent conflict resolution.

"This is not about money, it is about conscience," Mr Brookes said. ""At best the money is simply wasted. A non-violent conflict resolution programme is urgently needed. I am appalled by the huge amount of money spent on the military, which is ultimately only going to create misery, death and destruction."

The group took their case to the High Court in June last year, and after being refused permission for a judicial review, they appeared at the Court of Appeal four weeks ago. If they are unsuccessful, they will take the case to Strasbourg.

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