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Last Updated: Friday, 3 October, 2003, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Anti-war protester's 'reality cheque'
Nick Buxton with the cheque
His bank says it has made payments on other unusual cheques
An anti-war campaigner has come up with an unorthodox way of paying a civil disobedience fine.

Nick Buxton, 31, presented his local court with a cheque for 120 - written on a mock gravestone.

Engraved on the other side of the stone was a memorial to those who have died in the war in Iraq.

The charity worker was fined, along with at least 50 other protesters, for staging a sit-down protest at Northwood military base in north London in January.

The cast stone slab, weighing around 5lbs, was chiselled on one side with the words "25,000 dead in Iraq", with the other filled out as a normal cheque, complete with signature.

"I took direct action at Northwood because I felt the war was illegal and immoral but the government was not listening to demonstrators," he told BBC News Online.


"This war has had a devastating impact on Iraq - primarily in terms of loss of life in Iraq.

"By paying my fine like this, I wanted to bring the reality home to the public, the courts, and the staff at the bank where the cheque will be cashed - and in quite a graphic way."

The other side of the gravestone bears a memorial to those killed in Iraq
Mr Buxton says 25,000 dead in Iraq is a 'conservative estimate'

Mr Buxton says he collated various sources to arrive at a "conservative estimate" of 25,000 Iraqis killed in the conflict so far - including an internet monitor of reported civilian deaths and newspaper estimates of military casualties.

He said he got the idea for the stunt when reading a newspaper column.

It suggested that any legal object can be used as a cheque, provided the account number, date, payee, amount payable and signature are clearly visible.

Paving slabs

Mr Buxton said staff at Camberwell Magistrates Court in London had refused the cheque on Friday, saying it was not "reasonable" to accept in that form.

But his bank said there were precedents for such unusual payment methods.

"We had several instances of payment like this during the era of the poll tax - people paying on paving slabs, and so on," said a Co-operative Bank spokesman.

"My understanding is that legally we had to accept that."

The Guinness Book of Records says the strangest known cheque was written on the side of a live cow.

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