Wirral grandad Derek Shields risks jail after refusing to pay Census fine
MERSEYSIDE grandad Derek Shields said he would rather go to prison than pay a fine for refusing to complete last year’s Census form.
Derek Shields, 57, was the first person in the country to contest a trial for failing to complete the 2011 national survey.
The father-of-two said he objected to the role of US arms firm Lockheed Martin in gathering the data on behalf of the Office for National Statistics.
The unemployed motor mechanic was found guilty of failing to comply and fined £75 plus £110 costs.
But he said he would rather go to prison than pay the penalty.
Shields, who defended himself at Liverpool magistrates told the court: “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.”
Wendy Scott, prosecuting, told how non-compliance officers visited Shields’ Patterson Street home in Birkenhead and asked if he had completed the form.
Shields told them: “No, I’m not doing it, mate. It’s all going to an arms firm.” He then shut the door.
Chairman of the bench Mary Wright heard evidence that Shields was living in “dire poverty” and had made a “conscientious objection”.
She told him: “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. Everyone in the country has to compete the Census. You have not put forward a defence today that changes that.”
Shields, who was advised by the court to “consider his position”, told the bench: “If I pay the fine it is saying I have done something wrong. I’ve not done anything wrong. I’m not doing anything that the Lord Jesus wouldn’t do.”
He has 28 days to pay his first £5 weekly instalment.
The ONS and Lockheed Martin declined to comment on the case. THE WIRRAL NEWS