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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 12:19 GMT
No 'English' on the census form
Census form
Mr Molyneux returned a blank census form
Census officials say there are no plans to change their forms after a man refused to fill his in because he could not call himself English.

Christopher Molyneux was fined 75 for failing to complete his form.

He objected to a question headed "What is Your Ethnic Group?" because he did not want to call himself "British".

But, while some government surveys give respondents the chance to tick a box marked "English", a spokesman for the Office of National Statistics said it was more difficult to change the census papers.

It's a sad state of affairs when an Englishman cannot call himself an Englishman anymore

Christopher Molyneux
He said: "Some surveys and samples are becoming more detailed and do include a choice of being described as 'English'.

"But to change the census forms is a matter for Parliament.

"What goes on to the forms is decided years in advance and there are already some people who have said they should be made shorter."

Mr Molyneux, from Poynton, Cheshire, is unrepentant about his stand after his appearance before magistrates in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

He said: "It's a sad state of affairs when an Englishman cannot call himself an Englishman anymore."

Ethnic group

Prosecutor Chris Kemp told the court that in June this year Mr Molyneux, 56, returned his form completely blank with a letter stating his objections.

"He said he was unable to complete the form because there were errors contained within.

"The question on ethnic group, under a sub-section with British, Irish and other white background, Mr Molyneux felt he could not answer.

"He said he felt Britain no longer existed after devolution."

Mr Kemp said design engineer Mr Molyneux could have ticked the box marked "other white background" and written "English" in a box provided.

A second form was also returned blank with another letter re-stating his objections to filling it in, he said.

'Misleading form'

Patrick Harris, defending, said Mr Molyneux, who was also ordered to pay 75 costs after admitting the charge of not filling in the form, felt unable to complete the survey.

He said: "One of Mr Molyneux's concerns was that he felt the word ethnic was misleading and the use of British is misleading because that tends to refer to the Union, the British union of various states that does not exist anymore."

Mr Harris said Mr Molyneux also felt it was wrong to refer to himself as member of an ethnic group "which the dictionary definition says is a minority group.

"He felt it was more appropriate that it said English."

Failure to fill in the census forms, which are sent to every household in the UK every 10 years, can be punished with fines of up to 1,000.

Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

09 Oct 01 | UK
Jedi makes the census list
29 Apr 01 | UK
UK census begins
27 Apr 01 | UK
The census and Big Brother
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