Council tax defaulter gran spared prospect of jail return

An assurance has been given that a 52-year-old grandmother who fears being sent back to jail over council tax debts will face no further legal action — for now.

Carla Buckle was released from prison just in time for Christmas. A campaign for her release went viral, saying she was struggling to live on a low income as a carer on a zero-hours contract, earning just £7 (€8.94) an hour for around 25 hours a week.

Buckle, from Newbury, Berkshire, was prosecuted by West Berkshire Council for failing to pay over £3,000 in council tax.

She was jailed at Reading Magistrates’ Court on November 18 last year for eight weeks and was freed on bail from HMP Bronzefield in Surrey just 48 hours before Christmas as she took steps to seek a High Court judicial review.

She is arguing that the way she was arrested and jailed was procedurally flawed and unlawful.

Yesterday, a council spokesman said no further action would be taken against her “until the outcome of the appeal hearing in the High Court is known”.

However, he warned: “We have not said that we will take no further action full stop.”

Earlier this week, Buckle came to London’s High Court seeking an injunction to prevent the council from attempting to imprison her again pending her legal challenge.

Refusing to grant an injunction, Mrs Justice Patterson said there was no evidence that the council was “champing at the bit” to send her back to prison.

The judge said: “Mrs Buckle is out on bail as a result of a court order. There is nothing to suggest that she will be anything other than on bail until the judicial review process has been determined.”


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