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Thursday, 20 August 2015

TV Licensing Withdraws Another Dubious Prosecution

TV Licensing has withdrawn another dubious prosecution, when the occupier attended court and indicated his intention to plead not guilty.

Edward, not his real name, first got in touch with the TV Licensing Blog by leaving a comment on our popular "TV Licensing Summons: What To Do?" article.

He explained that he had just received a summons that day, 27th May 2015, in relation to an offence TV Licensing alleged he had committed back in January 2015. A copy of the semi-completed TVL178 Record of Interview form was included with the summons. Notice again how it had taken TV Licensing almost 5 months to bring the case to court.

Reading through the TVL178 form, shown above, it was immediately apparent to Edward that the goon's recollection of events was somewhat different to his own. The goon had not left the "customer copy" of the form at the time he visited, so its arrival on 27th May was the first opportunity Edward had to note any inconsistencies.

The goon visited Edward's property at around 7.30 pm on 6th January 2015. Edward was outside the Hertfordshire property, having just returned home after a long day at work. Having endured a stressful 3 hour journey home, Edward really didn't feel like entertaining one of TV Licensing's finest at that time of the evening. This being January it was cold and dark outside, so all Edward wanted to do was settle down and relax in the comfort of his home.

Eager to keep the visit as short as possible Edward, who is very familiar with the relevant legislation, informed the goon that he did not need a TV licence as he did not watch any "live" TV programmes. The goon wanted to enter the property to confirm Edward's story, but given the circumstances he was refused entry and told to return some other time. Edward then unlocked the door, entered the property and closed the door leaving the goon stood outside.

Edward explained how the visit seemed fairly innocuous and he had virtually forgotten it until the arrival of the summons jogged his memory. In our opinion TV Licensing relies very heavily on innocent people forgetting their seemingly innocuous interactions with its goons, as it puts them at an immediate disadvantage if they are later summoned to court. It is for that reason that TV Licensing, despite its denials, tries to eek out the summons for as long as possible.

Looking at the completed TVL178 form Edward was somewhat concerned that the comments recorded by the goon - that he admitted having a colour TV set and digital box, that was in use and connected to an aerial - did not accurately reflect his comments that he did not watch "live" TV programmes.


We advised Edward to contact TV Licensing's Prosecution Team in Darwen and raise concerns about the accuracy of the information recorded on the completed TVL178 form.

"Really do lay it on thick", we told him.

"Make sure TV Licensing is fully aware that you will plead not guilty and tell the court how the completed TVL178 differs from your recollection of events.

"In all likelihood they will withdraw the prosecution, but if they don't you must follow-through and tell the court exactly how it is.

"The reason TV Licensing has such a high conviction rate is because most of their innocent victims just roll over and accept their fate.

"If you indicate your enthusiasm for court they will almost certainly think twice."

It took a bit longer than expected, but TV Licensing has indeed withdrawn Edward's prosecution.

TV Licensing played Edward along right until the morning he attended court for the first hearing. He was approached by the Capita Court Presenter and asked how he intended to plead. Edward explained the flaws in the goon's evidence and indicated his intention to plead not guilty. The Capita Court Presenter thumbed his paperwork for a few moments, sighed and announced that he would withdraw the prosecution there and then.

Edward is understandably very pleased with the outcome. "Thanks so much for your expert words of advice", he said.

It is very important that people have the courage to stand up and face TV Licensing in court. TV Licensing thrives on the fact that most people are so fearful of court, that they'll simply pay up and plead guilty for an easy life. Either that or they'll totally ignore the summons and therefore be found guilty by default.

The last thing TV Licensing wants is for one of its goons to appear in the witness box, on oath, and stumble when asked to clarify or elaborate on points of their written evidence.

TV Licensing knows how few people plead not guilty, which is why it's sometimes arrogant enough to rely on what can only be described as questionable evidence.

Edward was brave. He stood his ground and TV Licensing blinked first. Sadly there are hundreds of similar cases every day where TV Licensing goes unchallenged and therefore succeeds in criminalising innocent individuals.

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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why oh why oh why do people attending court to plead not guilty (to any alleged offence) always tell the prosecution just prior, of their intentions? I would have told him/her to go feck themselves as they will find out once inside the court room.

foxyman said...

This sounds very much like a good example, if you must engage with the EO's, to ensure if possible, to obtain video footage.

Anonymous said...

I agree with last comment and would look forward to my day in court its the only way to stop them setting people up

foxyman said...

Just a matter of interest Admin, if one turned up in court, together with legal representation and the case was subsequently withdrawn, would TVL/C be liable for the defendant's costs?

Admin said...

Not entirely sure to be honest. We're not aware of any situations where people have tried to claim their expenses from TVL after it pulled the case.

Anonymous said...

Great updated info, thanks.
But I would also like some confirmation on if its even legal to pull the plug at the last minute, isnt that wasting court time and admission of a wrongfull claim?
I would think to reclaim your costs, you would have to make a seperate case and that would not be viable financially I guess, unless there was someone doing it for free!

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Anon.

I'm not sure it's illegal to withdraw the charges at the last moment, but it must be very frustrating for both the court and innocent occupier whose time has been wasted.

You can be pretty confident that if Edward hadn't appeared in court, TV Licensing would have pressed on irrespective of the shittiness of its "evidence".

TV Licensing has a very maligned moral compass. It doesn't withdraw cases because it is the right thing to do; it withdraws them because it can't risk its people appearing in the witness box and being dismembered over inaccuracies in their paperwork.

We have spoken to Edward at length and it is very clear that he knows the legislation inside out. It is also clear that his account differs from that of the goon, which means one of them isn't being entirely honest or accurate. We know who our money's on.

Sadly when TV Licensing pulls the plug the matter is over. There is no closer scrutiny of the "evidence" it was prepared to use, which means people responsible for any "errors or omissions" go unchallenged.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so so much for the great articles on your website. They have really helped me over the last 4 years since I went TV free. I've saved a small fortune and looking at the BBC today I am so glad I don't fund it anymore!

Anonymous said...

Surely where Capita pull out of a prosecution on the day right before the hearing, the defendant has a legal right to demand the case be heard in the interests of justice etc? Pretty sure I've read that in CPR somewhere.

Admin said...

First Anon: Thanks for your kind words.

Second Anon: I don't think so actually. Once the charges are withdrawn that's it. I'd be interested to hear if you do find out any more about it.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this right- TV licensing could put anything on those forms and just pull the case if they think they'll get rumbled? Is that not fraud or something?

Admin said...

Let's put it this way: If they did put "anything" on one of those forms, I think they realise it would probably never be picked up. The whole system depends on the honesty of TV Licensing goons, who are incentivised to get results. Experience tells us that a number of TV Licensing goons have acted thoroughly dishonestly in the past and probably continue to do so on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/termination_of_proceedings/#a14

"Withdrawal of Proceedings

Offences can be withdrawn by the prosecutor in the magistrates' court (only) at any time before adjudication by the court. Applications to withdraw must be made before a plea has been taken. If proceedings are withdrawn in anticipation that they may be re-instituted if additional evidence comes to light, this must be made clear in court.

Leave to withdraw is required. The court has complete discretion whether to grant leave. The prosecuting advocate will need to give sufficient reasons to satisfy the court that the application is a proper one. The defendant is entitled to make representations as to whether s/he should be entitled to an acquittal.

If proceedings are withdrawn, there is no technical bar to instituting further proceedings for the same offence at a later date. CPS policy on the re-institution of proceedings will apply to any such decision. Refer to the legal guidance on Reconsidering a Prosecution Decision elsewhere in the Legal Guidance.

The court may refuse leave to withdraw the proceedings. If this occurs, and the prosecuting advocate is still of the view that the matter should be abandoned, then no evidence should be offered. Further proceedings may not then be commenced on the basis that the defendant has previously been acquitted of the same offence ('autrefois acquit').

In all cases when termination of proceedings takes place at court, a full note should be made on the file of what was said by each of the parties and the court."

Admin said...

Good find, but it doesn't say "the defendant can insist on proceedings going ahead, in order to discredit the prosecution's evidence!"

Anonymous said...

Dunno if this helps.

https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/what-are-human-rights/human-rights-act/article-6-right-fair-hearing

Fred Bear said...

'Edward' could make use of the BBC's compensation fund for those whose time it has wasted unnecessarily or caused annoyance to.

I suspect Capita Court Presenters will pull cases rather than arrange for goons to appear in court as witnesses just to save on administation costs. Also it needs goons pounding the streets every hour of the day annoying the hell out of everyone.

Roy L Hickman said...

unfortunately there is not any real political opposition to the BBC and its bullying of law abiding people. Therefore it will continue to steal money from the public until people are prepared to force the issue by admitting to having a television and refusing to pay, on moral and political grounds.