Derek Shields tells court he 'wouldn't get into bed with an arms dealer' and says he will not pay ?75 fine
A devout Christian has been fined for refusing to complete last year's census form because of its links with a defence contractor.
Derek Shields, 57, from Wirral, Merseyside, told Liverpool magistrates court he did not co-operate with the nationwide survey because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) used Lockheed Martin as a technical consultant.
Shields, an unemployed mechanic, was found guilty of one charge of failing to comply with the census under section 8 of the Census Act 1920 and fined ?75 plus costs. He said he would rather go to prison than pay the penalty.
Wendy Scott, prosecuting, told the court that on 28 June last year Shields was visited at his home in Birkenhead by two census non-compliance officers who asked if he had completed the form.
He allegedly told them: "No, I'm not doing it, mate. It's all going to an arms firm." At that he shut the door and the ONS workers left the scene, Scott said.
She said the purpose of the census was to "paint a picture" of the UK's population and how it was expected to change. "The information on the census is very important for allocating financial resources, especially in these times when cuts are being made," she told the court.
Decisions on funding transport, housing and other public services were made as a direct result of the information gained from the questionnaire. "It is so important that there is a legal obligation on people to comply," she said.
Shields, who represented himself during the hour-long trial, told the magistrates: "I've only got one thing to say and that is I'm a Christian and I wouldn't get into bed with an arms dealer."
The chair of the bench, Mary Wright, said: "I have heard all the evidence and do understand you have deep religious beliefs and we have also heard about the part you play in the local community.
"However, we are here to enforce the law and every person in the country has to comply with the census. You have not put forward a defence that changes that. We find the case proved."
Shields was fined ?75 and ordered to pay ?100 prosecution costs and a ?15 victim surcharge. He told the court: "I'm not going to pay. If I pay that's admitting I've done something wrong and I don't believe I have done anything wrong."
He was advised he had 28 days to "consider his position" and pay his first ?5 weekly instalment.