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Oxfam ban Somerset's Robin Hood row banker

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 10, 2011

Oxfam

Oxfam is seeking court action to ban a pensioner from one of its shops

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Oxfam is seeking court action to ban a pensioner from one of its shops, and is asking him to pay a £10,000 legal bill.

But Barry Nowlan, 63, of Taunton, says he has a legitimate complaint about Oxfam’s “political campaigning.”

The charity banned the retired bank clerk and Lloyds shareholder from its shop at The Bridge in Taunton after he complained about a poster which highlighted Oxfam’s call for a “Robin Hood” tax of banks and financial institutions.

The charity accuses Mr Nowlan of causing: “great distress” and “harassing volunteers”.

He denies the claims but admits entering the building since Oxfam banned him by letter.

Oxfam says seeking an injunction at county court is a “last resort.”

Mr Nowlan said on Friday: “Oxfam claims its Robin Hood Tax will come from bank profits and bankers’ bonuses, not from the ordinary people”. But banks are owned by shareholders.

“They are pension funds and ordinary people like me.

“I retired at 49 through ill-health. My pensions are small but I had the benefit of dividends (mainly from my Lloyds Bank shares) until the last few years.

“As you know, Lloyds' share value fell from a peak of £11 to barely 30p. now. The dividends represented about one-third of my income. So I was not best pleased to see Oxfam's window display deceiving people.

“I have continued to go into the shop to show I am not cowed.

“I am not causing a problem, and have bought one or two books. All this has racked up a legal bill of nearly £10,000 which I am expected to pay.”

Oxfam says it is campaigning for a financial transaction tax on banks, because the global economic crisis has pushed 50 million more people into extreme poverty.

It says the Robin Hood tax is a tiny tax that would have a massive impact on the world’s poorest people.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “Oxfam has made the decision to apply for an injunction against a member of the public who we feel has been harassing the manager and volunteers at our Oxfam shop in Taunton.

“The nature of the visits to the shop from this member of the public are far beyond what any staff have a right to expect while working for Oxfam.

“The decision to apply for the injunction is very much a last resort.

“It is a time consuming and costly process but it is our duty to provide a safe working environment for our staff.

“Oxfam has made every effort to resolve the situation but, despite our best efforts to reason with the member of the public, his behaviour has been such that we now feel there is no other choice but to apply to take out an injunction.

“Oxfam has engaged the services of Wragge & Co LLP to apply for this injunction, and they have kindly offered to share the burden of half of the costs on a pro bono basis.”

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  • Mint_Julip  |  October 11 2011, 11:03PM

    I looked at Oxfam's annual reports to see if there is a breakdown of their campaign expenditure items. There does not appear to be any breakdown. I understand that charities must spend money in order to raise money, but I feel that donors should be entitled to read exactly where charitable expenditure is directed, right down to the last pound. It would be good to feel some reassurance that charitable institutions do not financially support campaigns for new taxes, particularly tax that is academically predicted to damage the pensions of the very people who support them and further damage the British economy.

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  • 4tmorris  |  October 11 2011, 2:26PM

    With Oxfam politically campaigning for a tax that would significantly impact pensions. I'm surprised they don't have more trouble with angry pensioners. I applaud Mr Nowlan's stand against Oxfam's misguided attack on British jobs and pensions.

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  • Mint_Julip  |  October 08 2011, 11:29PM

    Mr Nowlan, retiree has every right to express his discontent with the charity's advertising of a tax that has potentially huge negative ramifications for pensioners and the wider less informed public. If the charity concerned wants to spend donor money acting against the old man who relies on a retirement pension that he understands would be affected by a highly questionable tax, then the charity must have more disposable money than I thought. It is unacceptable that any charity should threaten someone for objecting to their advertising. The tax I have read about appears to be a very complex issue that academics and national governments have repeatedly discredited. Charities should stay right out of political matters like this and if they don't spend many hours explaining to each person they engage on it exactly how such a tax would affect their pensions and its potential negative effects on the wider population, then the campaign could likely be regarded as misleading and warranting the close scrutiny of charity regulators.

  • Mint_Julip  |  October 08 2011, 11:17PM

    Mr Nowlan, retiree has every right to express his discontent with the charity's advertising of a tax that has potentially huge negative ramifications for pensioners and the wider less informed public. If the charity concerned wants to spend donor money acting against the old man who relies on a retirement pension that he understands would be affected by a highly questionable tax, then the charity must have more disposable money than I thought. It is unacceptable that any charity should threaten someone for objecting to their advertising. The tax I have read about appears to be a very complex issue that academics and national governments have repeatedly discredited. Charities should stay right out of political matters like this and if they don't spend many hours explaining to each person they engage on it exactly how such a tax would affect their pensions and its potential negative effects on the wider population, then the campaign could likely be regarded as misleading and warranting the close scrutiny of charity regulators.

  • Charlespk  |  October 08 2011, 5:33PM

    Charities are not suppose to involve themselves in political campaigning. . It is the sort of abuse that has become increasingly common. . The RSPCA, 'Common Purpose' and many others now regularly blatantly abuse their charitable status which now often appears to be far more about generating a comfortable income for the directors than helping others. IMO.

  • rhonn  |  October 08 2011, 4:01PM

    It appears as though 0xfam abhors any opposing views from the poor pensioners that they plan on confiscating money from with their Robin Hood tax that they are constantly harassing and deceiving the public without impunity. The Robin Hood tax or Financial Transaction Tax is promoted as not being a direct tax on an individual's investments...yet. It certainly is an indirect tax that cascades through the chain of several transactions that take place by financial firms on each of our transactions on our behalf. Those multiple transactions placed by those firms will be taxed. So for each of our transactions we will pay that tax several times through increased spreads and commissions. That tiny tax will cost several percent yield loss annually...before they even raise the tax rate as they promise they will.

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