Mr Brown in tax giveaway

Pensioner Sylvia Hardy, jailed for seven days for her council tax arrears of £53.71, has been released after just two days after a mysterious benefactor known only as Mr Brown stepped in and paid the bill.

‘The prison governor was hounded from the moment I got into prison by a mysterious Mr Brown, as he called himself. He left two contact numbers, one in Bristol and one in London, said he was a Christian and that he wanted to pay my debt,’ Hardy said.

Rumours that Mr Brown’s first name may have been Gordon, and that he may have hailed from No. 11 Downing Street, have been quashed, however, with the Treasury officially denying that the Chancellor had been involved.

Hardy said she had not wanted to be released: ‘Surely there’s a human rights element? Surely the person who owes the money has the right to say whether they want this debt paid or not?’

Anyone imprisoned for non-payment of tax is automatically released when it is paid, officials said.

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