A campaigning vicar emerged triumphant from the High Court after winning permission to seek a judicial review after a council raised its legal costs.

The Reverend Paul Nicolson appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice today to challenge a decision made by Tottenham magistrates ordering him to pay Haringey Council’s legal costs.

The clergyman had refused to pay his council tax in a protest over benefit cuts.

Tottenham Magistrates’ Court gave Haringey Borough Council permission to increase the costs for a summons from £95 to £125 in March 2010.

The Rev Nicolson says magistrates refused to tell him how they arrived at the figure at a hearing last August.

Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Green gave Rev Nicholson permission to apply for judicial review of the decision.

Summing up the hearing, he said: “The issue is one of significant public interest for council tax payers and for local authorities.

“The court is entitled to see that the authority has not just plucked a figure out of the air. It will be examining whether reasonable process has been applied.”

Helen Mountfield QC, who represented Rev Nicolson, said it was a matter of transparency, and that Haringey Council had to provide a breakdown of how the costs were calculated.

She added: “The important point is that if it is challenged, they have a rational evidence-based explanation.”

Josephine Henderson, who represented the council, said that although the costs were higher than in other boroughs, they were not disproportionate.

Speaking after the hearing, the Rev Nicolson said: “I am very pleased with the outcome. We got what we asked for, and I am going to get the answer to my question.

“We are going to get the magistrates to take into account the details of any increase the council proposes to them. These are enormously important, especially to the poorest citizens.

“I think it has forced the local authority and the magistrates to be totally transparent about the procedure. I have no doubt about the public interest in the case. The fact the public gallery was full shows how important it is.”

Sharon Chesterman, 54, attended the hearing to support Rev Nicolson.

She said: “It was brilliant, and I am delighted with the outcome. It’s better than we were expecting.

“People cannot afford their council tax, and to then slap them with £125 defeats the purpose.

“We have been following Paul from the start, and will keep following him all the way through.”

The review will take place next year.