BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
Vicar fined for census protest
Reverend John Papworth
Rev John Papworth tried to make a speech in court
A retired Wiltshire clergyman who refused to complete and return his census form has been fined 120.

Reverend John Papworth, 79, of Purton, Wiltshire admitted the offence when he appeared at Swindon Magistrates Court on Thursday

Mr Papworth, who believes the government has no right to the information, tried to defend his actions by addressing the court with a prepared 15-minute speech.

But the clerk of the court cut him short saying he could not mount a defence if he had pleaded guilty.

Mr Papworth claims the details gathered in census forms could be used by politicans and bureaucrats to undermine British sovereignty.

He told the BBC: "We are having to tell our children and grandchildren that this England which was once a conqueror has made a shameful conquest of itself and is now bound in with inky plots and rotten treaties."

Asked if he would fill in a census form in future he said: "I very much doubt it. We'll see, won't we."

Census officials say the survey, held every 10 years, is a process of gathering information useful for planning issues and for shaping social and economic policy.

Prison sentence

David Marder, spokesman for the Office for National Statistics, said it had been made clear right from the start that it was a legal requirement to fill out the forms.

"It was also made clear that those who wilfully do not would be liable for prosecution."

The penalty can be a fine of up to 1,000 or a prison sentence.

Following the last census in 1991 there were more than 300 prosecutions.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories