My right to live alone wrecked

A spiritual healer claimed council tax changes have wrecked his right to live alone and relax in his underwear.

Mark Hawley told magistrates the £133 charge would force him to have a lodger at his terraced home in Heanor.

Outside court, he said: “It would be like living in a hotel and would infringe my human rights.

“An Englishman’s home is his castle and I like to take off my clothes to feel comfy. I am better off in my underpants or nothing at all.

“I couldn’t do that with a lodger,” said Mr Hawley, 50, of Mill Road.

But after raising concerns with magistrates in Derby, he agreed to pay the cash promptly. Amber Valley Borough Council had offered to set up a direct debit so it could be taken in instalments from his state benefit.

The magistrates refused to allow him to unfurl a Union Jack, which he said could be used to show his links to the royal family.

Mr Hawley lives with his terrier Whip, two lovebirds and a cockatiel in the house, managing without gas or electricity. He believes the two meters are possessed by spirits, which steal supplies as soon as he has put money in. A student of the lives of Druids and of Celtic mythology, he cooks outside and sleeps inside two quilts when the weather is chilly. “Shipley Park is my country home but it was stolen from my family in history. My story is bigger than the Da Vinci Code,” he added.

JPs granted 541 liability orders against people who owe a total of £128,570. This gives council staff the right to send in bailiffs to seize goods to clear debts.

The move follows a government decision to cut the amount of money available to help hard-up residents.

Everyone of working age has to pay something, even if they did not before. After public consultation, the council removed discount on second homes and the exemption on empty property.