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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Benefactor pays protester's bill
Josephine Rooney protests outside Derby Magistrates Court
Miss Rooney has insisted she did not want her tax bill paid
Council tax protester Josephine Rooney has been released from jail after a benefactor took care of the tax bill she had refused to pay.

Miss Rooney, 69, was jailed for three months on Monday for refusing to pay Derby City Council the 800 debt.

She had been protesting against litter, drug use and anti-social behaviour on her street in Derby.

Retired insurance broker Ed McGrath, 68, from Little Bookham, in Surrey, paid the outstanding tax bill.

Miss Rooney's arrears dated back to 2004.

Her brother said she had resisted his offers to pay the debt as she wanted to continue with her campaign.

Many offers

After she arrived back at her home, Miss Rooney said: "The person who did this has no respect for my campaign - I am very angry about it.

"I had planned this for two years - I have been under extreme stress and the governor told me the tax has been paid - but I had the money in my account."

Mr McGrath said: "I think she had a right to protest but I think it was a case where people were between a rock and a hard place.

"I was moved by the fact that it was a three-month sentence. If it was a lot less than that I would not have bothered.

Mr McGrath added: "I just feel three months is too long for a lady in her circumstances. I think the best result is that she's out.

"It is three months she can now enjoy in the comfort of her own home. It's money well spent, I think."

'Wrong message'

Miss Rooney was set to serve her three-month sentence in New Hall women's prison, in Wakefield, but had spent her first night at Foston Hall closed female prison in Derbyshire.

Her brother Father Liam Rooney said: "The newspapers have been inundated with letters from people willing to pay.

"She says she will be very hurt if that was to happen because it would mean she's suffered all this and somebody is going to hand the council a cheque.

"That sends out the wrong message. That would interfere with what she's trying to achieve."

Council tax rebel Sylvia Hardy, 73, from Devon, spent only two days of a seven-day prison sentence in jail in 2005 after an anonymous benefactor stepped in to pay.

Miss Rooney explains her protest

Jail 'shocks' tax protest brother
27 Jun 06 |  Derbyshire
Council tax protester is jailed
26 Jun 06 |  Derbyshire
Council tax pensioner gets award
09 Jun 06 |  Derbyshire

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