TV Licensing has withdrawn another dubious prosecution, when the occupier attended court and indicated his intention to plead not guilty.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