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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 15:52 GMT
Pensioner 'is targeting Europe'
Elizabeth Winkfield - PA
Elizabeth Winkfield: Europe at the heart of protest
Publicist Max Clifford claims the north Devon council tax protester Elizabeth Winkfield is actually trying to make a point about Europe.

Mr Clifford, who handles media enquires for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), is now representing Miss Winkfield - who is a UKIP member.

Miss Winkfield, 83, from Westward Ho! has been withholding some of her council tax and is facing legal action.

Her case at Barnstaple Magistrates Court on 19 February attracted huge media interest.

She has never said she cannot afford to pay this
Max Clifford

Mr Clifford said he had been called in to represent Miss Winkfield by the UKIP which objects to what it claims is council tax being channelled into European affairs.

"She is very much involved with UKIP and she was becoming overwhelmed by media interest," he said.

But Mr Clifford denied that UKIP was trying to capitalise on protests by the Devon Pensioners Action Forum against council tax rises.

Jail threat

He said: "It does not undermine anything.

"She has never said she cannot afford to pay this.

"She has said it is wrong and she should not have to pay this.

"It is the European issue which she is really objecting to."

He added: "I think possibly the people down there are trying to hijack what is a European issue for their own ends."

Miss Winkfield has said she would rather go to jail than pay her full council tax which she has been withholding from Torridge District Council.

Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford has said that on Miss Winkfield's income of 77.45 a week state pension, she should not be paying council tax.

Max Clifford
"It is the European issue which she is really objecting to"

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