UK Undressed; the Bodybuilding Fanatic Bringing Chaos to Britain's High Streets as Ringleader of the UK Uncut Tax Protesters. and Why He Is the Subject of His Own (Taxpayer-Funded) Thesis in 'Online Social Movements and Collective Action'

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

UK Undressed; the Bodybuilding Fanatic Bringing Chaos to Britain's High Streets as Ringleader of the UK Uncut Tax Protesters. and Why He Is the Subject of His Own (Taxpayer-Funded) Thesis in 'Online Social Movements and Collective Action'


Byline: Daniel Boffey

DEFIANT and shirtless, this is the 26-year-old bodybuilding fanatic and politics student who is planning to cause chaos on high streets all over the country during the post-Christmas sales .

He is aaron Peters, one of the ringleaders of the anti-tax avoidance movement UK Uncut, a group that has frustrated and bemused shoppers in equal measure with their colourful demonstrations, sitins and impromptu skipping displays inside stores.

Mr Peters is a fitness devotee who holds an nVQ in personal training and is being funded by the taxpayer to study for a doctorate in political protest. His demonstrations will form part of his thesis.

He is studying 'On-line social movements and collective action' - partially funded by a grant - at Royal Holloway, a college of London University, in egham, Surrey. He says he spends 60 hours a week helping to direct UK Uncut.

More than 50 Vodafone, topshop and Dorothy Perkins stores were closed after being targeted by Mr Peters and his friends during the most recent day of mass protests.

The post-Christmas sales are likely to be hit next by a wave of protests designed to limit business. Mr Peters, from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: 'UK Uncut is going to grow beyond anyone's imagination. there will be lots of things going on [during the Christmas period]. the goal is to try and get billionaires to pay tax to the exchequer, but also to educate the average Brit.

' I'm a reasonably good orator and my knowledge, organising and understanding of the direction in which we are going forward is quite useful.

'I am quite fortunate in that my PhD is all about this. i am almost my own case study.'

The group's protests are aimed at highlighting the alleged tax avoidance strategies used by some of Britain's biggest companies, which UK Uncut say cost the exchequer [pounds sterling]25 billion a year. they say topshop and Dorothy Perkins are being targeted because tina Green, the wife of the stores' owner, Sir Philip, was paid [pounds sterling]1.2 billion in dividends in 2005, equivalent to [pounds sterling]3.3million a day, after she moved to the tax haven of Monaco.

While UK Uncut claims to be a leaderless and loosely associated group, video footage posted on the website, Left foot forward, run by Will Straw, the son of Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw, appears to suggest otherwise. it shows the selfconfident Mr Peters proudly acting as a spokesman for the group at a protest and lecturing police officers on the movement's aims.

Handily, his studies also allow him to research how social networking sites, including twitter and facebook, can be used by protesters to organise demonstrations. …

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