400 being prosecuted for census boycott

Census boycotters being taken to court

At least 400 people are being prosecuted for failing to complete last year’s census. Miriam Yagud, of Nailsworth Meeting, reports that this figure was given to her by the Office for National Statistics after a lengthy telephone conversation.

The number is significantly higher than previous estimates by census boycott campaigners. A boycott campaign began after the government awarded the contract for running the census in England and Wales to multinational arms firm Lockheed Martin. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, it was run by another arms company, CACI.

Long-standing peace activist John Marjoram, of Stroud Meeting, is one of the latest individuals to be prosecuted. He will face court in Bristol on 6 February, where he will plead not guilty. Supporters are planning to make a short online film about his case.

Miriam Yagud suggested that the Bristol venue follows a trend of census resisters being summoned to courts outside of their local area. John Voysey, of Ludlow Meeting, has already criticised the authorities for calling him to court in Wrexham (see ‘Court for census boycotter’, 6 January).

Eight census resisters at Nailsworth Meeting met on Sunday with a support group of local Friends, who offered emotional and practical support should they find themselves in the dock. One of them, Indigo Redfern, said that she was ‘very pleasantly surprised at the support there was’ in the Meeting.

Quakers in Nailsworth have been discussing the census ever since a Friend mentioned the boycott in ministry last spring.

All eight Nailsworth boycotters returned their uncompleted census forms with letters explaining their reasons for boycotting.

Indigo Redern told the Friend that ‘at least half’ of the Nailsworth boycotters have said they will go to prison if convicted rather than pay a fine.

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