A group of conscientious objectors yesterday lost their High Court bid to avoid having to pay taxes to fund UK military activities.
The "Peace Tax Seven", backed by more than 50 supporters, asked Mr Justice Collins, sitting in London, for permission to seek a judicial review of a continuing Government refusal to allow them to opt out.
But the judge dismissed their application and ruled their case was "bound to fail" in the domestic courts.
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He indicated that their only hope was to take their peace tax battle to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The seven wanted to seek court orders forcing the Treasury to establish a special fund or account so that their money could be spent on peaceful purposes.
Michael Fordham, appearing for the seven, argued that the Treasury's continuing refusal to set up such an account violated their rights under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Rejecting the argument, the judge agreed with Treasury lawyers, who said the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg had already decided the issue against conscientious objectors in cases heard in the 1980s.
The judge said: "I am persuaded that if this matter is to be reconsidered it must be reconsidered by Strasbourg." But first the legal process had to be exhausted in the domestic courts, and the speediest way to achieve this was for him to refuse the seven leave to seek judicial review. He added: "I am sure that if I granted leave, in the end this case would be bound to fail."
The Peace Tax Seven included Joe Jenkins, of Green Street, Hereford and all were represented by Phil Shiner, of Birminghambased solicitors Public Interest Lawyers.
Outside court Nusrat Chagtai, solicitor with Public Interest Lawyers, said: "Obviously we are disappointed with the outcome, but we are not going to stop here. The first thing for us to consider is going to the Court of Appeal to reapply for permission to seek judicial review.
"If we are unsuccessful at that point the next step will be to go to Strasbourg."
Another conscientious objector said: "We are not going to give up now because we still want to bring about a change in the law so that we don't have to pay for killing."