Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

The bailiffs will have to break down my door over 80p mistake, says defiant peer Maginnis

Lord prepared to go to jail rather than allow his possessions to be seized

By Staff Reporter

Published 24/09/2016

Lord Maginnis outside Laganside Courts in Belfast earlier this year
Lord Maginnis outside Laganside Courts in Belfast earlier this year

A peer has warned that bailiffs will have to break down his front door to enforce a court order which he says was caused by an 80p mistake.

A judge yesterday ruled that goods belonging to Lord Maginnis should be seized and sold to cover a fine he refuses to pay.

The former Ulster Unionist MP appeared at Dungannon Magistrates' Court over an incident concerning a train ticket bought in England two years ago.

He has been accused of boarding a train without a valid ticket.

Lord Ken Maginnis was previously ordered to pay almost £1,500, but has yet to settle it.

Yesterday, a judge issued a warrant for the recovery of goods to the value of the outstanding amount to be seized from the peer.

The 78-year-old, who now sits in the House of Lords as an independent unionist, claimed he was being "rubbished" over an 80p mistake.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I don't know how they go about it or whether you get notice, but my door won't be opened for them. This is all over an 80p mistake. It's an 80p shambles."

Lord Maginnis said he was waiting on a hip replacement and was "in torture".

He explained he was prepared to go to jail rather than comply with the court order.

"I'm not sure I have any property. I don't exclusively own any property," he added.

"It will be interesting to see what they do. What are they going to do? Are they going to come and lift my television? It won't happen. I will be in Maghaberry before it happens."

Lord Maginnis, of Park Lane in Dungannon, represented himself at yesterday's hearing and sat in the benches usually reserved for the prosecution team.

According to court papers, he was convicted of boarding a train without a valid ticket in London on March 5, 2014.

The case initially appeared before South London Magistrates' Court where Lord Maginnis was ordered to pay a total of £1478.90, comprising a fine of £220, compensation of £19.90 and costs of £1,239. However, with nothing paid by November 23 last year, the case was ordered to be transferred from South London to Dungannon Magistrates' Court.

Lord Maginnis advised the judge he was under time pressure, stating: "I have a hospital appointment this morning. I am waiting for the NHS to give me a new hip."

The peer explained: "This is about a fine and more particularly about the system.

"I was summonsed in London on two occasions and turned up both times. It was cancelled both times. On the third occasion I did not appear and they went ahead without me. I've been rubbished in terms of an 80p mistake. I resent that old age is treated so.

"This is not only personal, it's a general issue. It has already cost me £3,200 in legal fees to ascertain why the court went ahead in my absence."

District Judge John Meehan confirmed he had read the papers submitted by Lord Maginnis and described it as "an unhappy situation." The judge noted the matter had gone through an appeal at Crown Court in London, but was dismissed. It was then transferred to the Northern Ireland jurisdiction, ending up at Dungannon Magistrates' Court after the fine remained unpaid.

He said: "I am at a stage where the matter is put before me for the fine to be addressed."

It was explained that persons in this position could enter into a repayment plan to discharge the outstanding fine and costs.

However, this was firmly rejected by Lord Maginnis.

Judge Meehan ordered a distress warrant to be issued for goods to the value of the amount in question to be seized. The warrant will be served by PSNI.

Lord Maginnis asked: "Does this mean, in fact, justice is denied?" Judge Meehan replied: "That's a philosophical issue and one I am not qualified to comment upon."

Afterwards, Lord Maginnis contrasted his treatment with that of Sir Philip Green, billionaire former boss of BHS, who extracted large sums and left the business on "life support".

"You look at what Sir Philip Green has got away with, and yet they chase me for the sake of 80p," he added."When the BHS employees get their pensions off Sir Philip then they can come and speak to me about my fine."

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph