John Voysey is a Quaker from Herefordshire who, together with other members of his Meeting, refused to comply with the 2011 Census and gave the Office of National Statistics clear reasons for this refusal on grounds of conscience.
An article in Quaker publication, the Friend, 6 January 2012 (attached as pdf file), outlines John's position:
"John declared himself a conscientious objector when he was conscripted to the armed forces in 1947. ‘I remain a conscientious objector’, he explained. He told the Friend that if he paid the fine he would ‘become an accessory’ to the actions of the arms industry... It remains unclear whether the authorities plan to prosecute all boycotters or whether they are picking out a few at random. John and his wife Anne refused to complete the census form for the house that they share, but only John has been charged. He suspects that the authorities see him as ‘the head of the household’, which he regards as ‘a very sexist approach’. John is surprised to have been summoned to appear at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court despite living in Hereford. He said: ‘The whole basis of British justice is that you’re tried locally by your peers’."
John argues that the ONS position that it had no choice but to award the contract to Lockheed Martin under European contracting regulations is a nonsense and that a country is perfectly within its rights not to engage in a contract with an unethical company.
A BIT OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR HISTORY
In the first World War, of 16,000 British conscientious objectors (COs), a number of 'absolutists' who refused to have anything to do with the war effort were imprisoned and sentenced to years of 'penal servitude'. 73 men died as a result of their ill-treatment while imprisoned for conscientious objection.
During the second World War, 61,000 people applied to be registered as COs. Many COs were treated as pariahs at work and in their communities. Many local councils sacked COs who worked for them and other employers sacked all those who were openly pacifist. By the end of the war, some 5,000 men and 500 women had been charged with conscientious objection offences, and most were sent to prison.
After the war, 10,000 further COs registered, some of whom served prison sentences before conscription was finally abolished in 1960.
LOCKHEED MARTIN AND THE CENSUS
Lockheed Martin is the world's largest weapons manufacturer. It jointly runs Aldermaston AWE, makes nuclear weapons, fighter jets, cluster bombs and many other deadly products. It has interrogation contracts at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and is implicated in torture. It has been awarded a £150 million contract for processing the 2011 England and Wales Census data.
MORE INFO, DIRECTIONS ETC.
Gather at 11am on Wednesday 1 February outside Wrexham Magistrates' Court, Bodhyfryd, Wrexham LL12 7BP.
The court is situated between the Memorial Hall and swimming pool.
Parking is available right next to court house (access from Chester Street).
The court is 2-3 min walk from the bus station and 10-15 min walk from train stations.
A cafe and toilets are situated in the swimming pool building adjacent to the court. There are also public toilets in the car park.
The vigil will be held from 11am until at least midday when the court case is scheduled to begin.
NOCONCENSUS SUPPORT NETWORK
A network of census refusers and supporters, organising under the banner 'No CONcensus' has been offering information and solidarity to defendants in census refuser cases, which are being heard all over the country. Many people are being required to travel long distances from their homes to hearings in other towns and cities.
No CONcensus can be contacted at NoCONcensus@yahoo.co.uk and by phone on 0845 330 4505 or 0709 201 4524.