Michael Shakespeare, who was wrongly convicted of TV licence evasion, has spoken live about his experiences on Russia Today.
His story almost defies belief. Briefly, for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with the case, he decided to invite TV Licensing into his home to prove that he didn't legally require a TV licence. The goon that visited, Ian Doyle, was quite satisfied that there was no evidence of unlicensed TV reception at the property. TV Licensing, who don't like outspoken opponents like Michael, decided to go ahead and prosecute him anyway.
You'll have to read our earlier post to see the extraordinary lengths TV Licensing went to in order to wrongly criminalise a completely innocent man.
Thankfully the Crown Court saw through the farce of Michael's Magistrates' Court trial and his conviction was overturned.
Below is a full transcript of Michael's interview with Russia Today presenter Bill Dod. It was broadcast live at 7.15 pm on 6th January 2015.
Bill Dod (BD): Michael, good to see you. Just tell us briefly about your story. You were arrested, but you didn't actually have a TV. There's something quite sinister that happened?
Michael Shakespeare (MS): The law requires you to have a licence if you watch live broadcasts. If you watch catch-up programmes or pre-recorded programes on, for example, a computer or monitor, you don't require a licence.
BD: And you made it very clear to the authorities that you had no (need for a) licence and interestingly enough they came to visit your property.
MS: I invited them to come, because the regime they operate is so - well some people would say, and I agree - is so oppressive and so aggressive that they keep writing to you, even though you say "look, I don't need your product". I actually invited them around.
BD: They came around and there was no indication at all that you had live television?
MS: The inspector (Doyle) spent half an hour examining the equipment that I had and interestingly enough he said at the time, because I captured it all on film, that he was quite satisfied that I wasn't breaking the law. He went away and 5 months later I was summoned to court.
MS: It's strange. The prosecution (TV Licensing) produced a piece of evidence from my actual film, or a copy of it, that had an image showing on the TV.
BD: And it was an image of what? A live broadcast?
MS: Well they claimed it was. It was a still image.
BD: Right, so basically you were set up and then you were then taken to court because they accused you of having a TV. Just very briefly, why do you think they corrupted the image and pretended that you had a live TV in your room when you didn't? Just very briefly.
MS: Well obviously I can't say that they corrupted the image. They downloaded the film - the clip that they used - they downloaded it from an unspecified source. An unverified source.
BD: Anyway, you did clear your name. The fact is, don't you think it is right though that people should be brought to account if they do not pay their TV licence?
MS: Personally, no.
BD: Why not?
MS: Because it's a bad law. It's unfair, it's anachronistic.
BD: How else should you get programmes funded? For example, free programmes, as it were, from the BBC. Open access. How else should it be done?
MS: Subscription. That's one model that's been put forward.
BD: But we have a public service broadcaster, which should obviously be supported by the public?
MS: But Channel 4 is a public service broadcaster. They have a public service remit as well.
BD: But what about the fact that people going on holiday - it's not just TV licence fees, but council taxes as well - if you haven't paid up do you think it's right that border control police can actually apprehend you?
MS: I don't actually, no.
BD: Why not? You're breaking the law.
MS: Because they make mistakes. People make mistakes. You're saying that the state should restrict people's freedom of travel on the basis that they say you've not paid your fees.
BD: So just very briefly, if you don't have a TV licence or, as I say, do have a TV at home in the future, would you actually refuse to pay the licence fee? Just briefly.
MS: Yes, I would personally.
BD: And you would be prepared to go to jail for this?
MS: I would be personally, yes.
BD: Michael , thanks very much indeed for joining us. Michael Shakespeare live here on RT UK. Thanks for watching us.
We think Michael did very well to keep his opinions to himself on the subject of who actually doctored the dodgy video footage. We're in little doubt and it doesn't sound like the presenter is either!
As RT has now aired TV Licensing's dirty laundry in public, it would be nice if the national press now followed suit and gave Michael's story the prominence it deserves.