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Tax protest over defence budget fails in court

A 67-YEAR-OLD woman who has been refusing to pay the tax she calculated would go towards the defence budget has been ordered to pay nearly pounds 3,000 by a district judge.

Brenda Boughton, a retired teacher from Oxford, started withholding tax in 1988 in protest at nuclear weapons, calculating her small contribution towards Polaris and Trident. But she broadened the protest to include conventional defence after the Gulf war hardened her conviction 'about the fundamental evil of being prepared to deal death indiscriminately by any means'.

Initially, the Inland Revenue waived the small amounts she owed. But over the last two years, she has withheld pounds 2,557 from a capital gains tax bill, explaining this 11 per cent share was the amount that would have gone towards the overall defence budget.

At a four-minute hearing in Oxford, the Inland Revenue told Judge Frank Barrington-Ward that Mrs Boughton had acted illegally and she was given 14 days to pay the pounds 2,557, plus interest.

Mrs Boughton said she would appeal. 'I gave the money I owed the Inland Revenue to an overseas aid agency. However, what I would really like is for that money to go into a fund which would help finance all attempts, like conferences, to bring peace.

'Although it's not legal to withhold tax in other countries, there seems to be a greater awareness of the need to promote peace in countries like Sweden.' In 1986, Dennis Canavan, a Labour MP, introduced a Bill in the Commons which would make lawful the diverting of tax into a peace fund, but it failed to get past its Second Reading.