Hundreds of council tax protesters storm courtroom in attempt to make citizens’ arrest of judge

Posted: March 8, 2011 in World News

Mail Online
March 8, 2011

* Action was in support of a man challenging his council tax bill
* Police had to come into court to rescue judge from the chaos

Hundreds of protesters stormed a courtroom and attempted to make a citizens’ arrest on a judge in support of a man challenging his council tax bill.

In chaotic scenes, police rescued Judge Michael Peake from the clutches of a mob and escorted him safely from the County Court in Birkenhead, Merseyside. Officers were force to scramble over court benches to control the near riot as one protester shouted to ‘seal the court’. Another sat in the judge’s chair at the head of the court and declared the defendant be released.

Deafening cheers and chants could be heard from the crowd outside the courts and demonstrators used mobile phones to film arrests being made. The protesters were from the anti-establishment British Constitution Group (BGC).

The demonstration was sparked when a prominent voice in the BCG, Roger Hayes, from Wirral, faced a bankruptcy hearing for non-payment of council tax. Around 600 chanting demonstrators had massed around the court in support of Mr Hayes. Roads were blockaded and dozens of police officers deployed to keep order.

After exchanges between Mr Hayes and the judge, protesters watching from the public gallery charged at Mr Peake to make a civil arrest, chanting ‘arrest that judge’. A stand-off followed with several demonstrators staging a sit-down protest in front of police vehicles, refusing to let them pass. Several arrests were made and police dog-handlers called to the scene.

As he emerged from the court surrounded by his supporters, Mr Hayes said: ‘The judges are breaking the law in their own courts. I asked him [Mr Peake] if he was serving under his oath of office.

‘I asked three times for him to confirm this and he refused, so I civilly arrested the judge and I called upon some people in the court to assist me in this.

‘[The protesters] were acting lawfully and the police should not have arrested them.’

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