A local man who cited ancient articles from the Magna Carta to avoid paying a council tax debt, has been sentenced to 25 days in jail.

Oliver Pinnock, 36, from Priorywood Crescent, Leigh, refused to pay a debt of £875.44, despite several reminders and warnings since November 2015 that his refusal to pay could lead to committal to prison.

Pinnock is a local professional welterweight boxer and is linked to a national group called Lawful Rebellion – Practical Lawful Dissent who cite various ancient laws to try and avoid paying council tax.

In this case, Pinnock and his supporters claim that Article 61 of the Magna Carta, which was written in 1215, means he does not have to pay tax to the local authority without a contract between an individual and the council.

However, as the council officers made it clear to Pinnock that council tax is a debt payable without the need for a contract or agreement and it is detailed in the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.

Joe Chesterton, the council’s director of finance and resources, says: “Council tax is not an optional payment, and whilst none of us like paying tax, it is essential to fund the various public services that people rely on daily.

“We have a duty to collect council tax on behalf of all residents, and with central funding to councils ever decreasing, ensuring that we do this effectively is more important than ever, no matter how small the amount may seem. 

"We therefore welcome this decision by the Magistrates Court who have sent out a strong and clear message and supported this approach by committing Mr Pinnock to prison.

“Committal proceedings are an absolute last resort, and this outcome has followed over 18 months of correspondence with Mr Pinnock, the refusal to cooperate with enforcement agents collecting this debt, and Mr Pinnock failing to turn up for his original committal hearing on April 12.”

Action was taken under section 47 of the Council tax administration and enforcement regulations 1992.

After Mr Pinnock failed to attend court on April 12, a warrant without bail was granted.

A Warrant officer was unable to execute the warrant initially, so it was executed on Tuesday May 2 and he was arrested by officers of the court.

Mr Pinnock was kept in custody until hearing via virtual link on Wednesday May 3 when a magistrate sentenced him to 25 days in prison.

Southend Council has since revealed that Mr Pinnock has been released from prison after the council tax debt was paid off.