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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

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Friday, 6 February 2015

TV Licensing: A Half Truth Is A Full Lie

Questions are again being raised about the honesty of TV Licensing during the prosecution process.

On Monday we reported the case of Hannah, who had appeared before Burton-on-Trent Magistrates' Court on charges of obstructing a TV Licensing search warrant.

Hannah, 39, was convicted of the offence and received a 12 month conditional discharge. She was also ordered to pay £200 towards TV Licensing's prosecution costs and the £15 victim surcharge.

Hannah's case was by no means as clear cut as The Burton Mail, the local newspaper, would have readers believe. The third-rate daily has taken great delight in publishing her full name and address on no less than three separate occasions, but has omitted to mention key aspects of the defence case.

In theory a search warrant should only be granted when a Justice of the Peace or District Judge is satisfied that it is both necessary and proportionate. It is only necessary if TV Licensing has been unable to obtain voluntary access to the property and there is little prospect of being able to do so in the future; it is only proportionate if TV Licensing has credible evidence that an offence (e.g. unlicensed TV reception) is being, or has been, committed at the property and immediate, unhindered access is required to secure that evidence.

TV Licensing should never have been able to obtain a warrant, because it could never have obtained credible evidence that unlicensed TV reception was, or had been, taking place at Hannah's property. That evidence cannot exist, as Hannah does not receive TV programmes and hasn't done since her last TV licence expired. That is borne out by the fact that TV Licensing's search of the property found no evidence whatsoever of unlicensed TV reception.

This latest case appears yet another example of TV Licensing playing the system in order to obtain a warrant it would not ordinarily be entitled to.

Instead of leaving Hannah's property empty-handed and reeking of incompetence, TV Licensing fell back on the consolation prize of an obstruction charge.

We reiterate our advice that in the exceptionally rare event that TV Licensing do appear with a search warrant, the occupier should allow them immediately and unhindered access. If they don't, then even if the search draws a blank there is the realistic prospect of being pursued on an obstruction charge.

For more information about TV Licensing search warrants, please see our article "TV Licensing Search Warrants: Prevention Better than Cure".

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Anonymous said...

According to the Burton Mail, the basis of the charge was that she took 15 minutes to review the paperwork and question the goons about the warrant before permitting them entry. The Burton Mail also states that she admitted the charge.

I can't see how the search would frustrated by a through review of the validity of the paperwork and think that if this charge had been defended, she may well have been acquitted.

Fred Bear said...

As I understand it a 'conditional discharge' does not constitute a conviction for the offence. The person can only be convicted if they subsequently break the conditions imposed by the court. If they fulfil the conditions it becomes an absolute discharge.

This case is yet another own goal by the BBC. The £200 costs awarded can only be a fraction of the cost of preparing this case. It probably doesn't even cover the cost of obtaining and serving the warrant. And look at the negative comments left under the Burton Mail story. More bad publicity for the BBC.

The internet is proving a very effective tool in exposing the stupidity of the TV Licence Fee system.