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  • FIRST POST
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 14th Jul 18, 8:24 PM
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    Cornucopia
    Unlawful TV Licence Enforcement
    • #1
    • 14th Jul 18, 8:24 PM
    Unlawful TV Licence Enforcement 14th Jul 18 at 8:24 PM
    Many FMs will be aware that I don't have/need a TV Licence. In fact, I've been in that situation for a number of years, and during that period have gained a lot of information and knowledge about the TV Licence, TV Licensing and the legal context for enforcement and prosecution.

    One slight disclaimer is that I've always used legal strategies against TV Licensing, and have consequently never had a doorstep visit from TVL, and for most of my legally-Licence free time, I haven't received enforcement letters either. However, I know from BBC information that they make around 4 million attempted visits each year. Around 90 million letters are sent, of which about half are thought to be for the purpose of enforcement.

    In February this year, I wrote the most recent of a series of letters to the BBC's Head of Revenue Management - the woman who effectively runs the TV Licensing operation through an outsource arrangement with Capita. I received no response. I sent a reminder in April and asked my MP to petition the BBC for a response. Still nothing. So, this weekend I am drafting a complaint to Lord Hall about this mishandling of my complaint.

    The nature of my complaint was that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (including its case law) lays down certain conditions that apply to Public Authorities who seek to interfere with the privacy/home life of members of the Public. In particular, it requires that any intervention must be enabled by legislation (or similar official authority) and that the Public Authority must take reasonable steps to ensure that affected members of the Public understand the laws that are being applied to them, together with ensuring that the implementation of processes based on the law(s) is reasonably proof against arbitrariness.

    The purpose of these requirements is to ensure that any interference with privacy is properly authorised and fairly implemented. Many people have observed that this does not seem to be the case with TV Licensing, and these legal arguments suggest that that is true, and provide as sound a legal basis for that opinion as a non-lawyer could reasonably muster.

    My suggestion to the BBC is that there is no legislation that empowers their TVL investigatory process (they have previously refused to supply me with whatever information they hold) - this would make their process unlawful to the extent that it interferes with people's privacy in their homes. If there is legislation, they need to ensure that the Public is aware of it, and the legislation itself must be explicit and specific in connecting the legal requirement and the enforcement process. Since the BBC does not do this, their process is unlawful.

    I think that the BBC have been given every chance to address these issues (and I think any reasonably well-informed person would know that we do not have "secret laws" in this country).

    Against that background I am going to try to get the Media involved. (They have traditionally been resistant to getting too close to TV Licensing presumably for fear of being seen to condone law-breaking).
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 3:12 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

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Page 1
    • silverwhistle
    • By silverwhistle 15th Jul 18, 12:10 AM
    • 2,761 Posts
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    silverwhistle
    • #2
    • 15th Jul 18, 12:10 AM
    • #2
    • 15th Jul 18, 12:10 AM
    Thanks. I'm slightly different in that although I've never had a colour TV they don't know my name as I prefer it that way, they don't need to know and not least in that I can immediately identify junk mail and deal with itappropriately.

    Last week I had the fourth letter with a little exposed window: "Will you be in on the nth July?". Probably; like the three previous dates when no visits took place. Is this letter designed to induce fear or embarrassment? It's certainly not for any mutual convenience.

    That would seem to be a potential breach of Article 8, if minor. I'm quite prepared to answer the door and politely tell them to their face that I do not possess a TV (or use their iplayer). Beyond that I do not wish to engage, and it would be handy to have a convenient legal response to their bluster.
    Last edited by silverwhistle; 15-07-2018 at 12:11 AM. Reason: formatting
    • antrobus
    • By antrobus 15th Jul 18, 1:43 AM
    • 16,899 Posts
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    antrobus
    • #3
    • 15th Jul 18, 1:43 AM
    • #3
    • 15th Jul 18, 1:43 AM
    ...

    The nature of my complaint was that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act lays down certain conditions that apply to Public Authorities who seek to interfere with the privacy/home life of members of the Public. In particular, it requires that any intervention must be enabled by legislation (or similar official authority) ..,
    Originally posted by Cornucopia
    This is Article 8;

    Right to respect for private and family life

    1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

    2 There shall be no interference by a public authority with the
    exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1

    I see no requirement "that any intervention must be enabled by legislation (or similar official authority)".


    ...
    and that the Public Authority must take reasonable steps to ensure that affected members of the Public understand the laws that are being applied to them, together with ensuring that the implementation of processes based on the law(s) is reasonably proof against arbitrariness.
    Originally posted by Cornucopia
    I can't see any mention of that.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 7:37 AM
    • 13,796 Posts
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    Cornucopia
    • #4
    • 15th Jul 18, 7:37 AM
    • #4
    • 15th Jul 18, 7:37 AM
    Last week I had the fourth letter with a little exposed window: "Will you be in on the nth July?". Probably; like the three previous dates when no visits took place. Is this letter designed to induce fear or embarrassment? It's certainly not for any mutual convenience.

    That would seem to be a potential breach of Article 8, if minor. I'm quite prepared to answer the door and politely tell them to their face that I do not possess a TV (or use their iplayer). Beyond that I do not wish to engage, and it would be handy to have a convenient legal response to their bluster.
    Originally posted by silverwhistle
    My main concern is the entry to people's homes by TVL staff in itself - it is that which I believe is the main issue for Article 8. However, as we all know, that process of entry to premises is supported by all manner of bluster, coercion and outright threat, some of which is official (in the sense of being TVL policy) and some is a consequence of TVL staff "taking the initiative". There may also be an element of Capita taking the initiative, too. In legal terms, the BBC is responsible for all of this, IMHO. Rogue staff should not be allowed to create additional breaches of Human Rights by being inadequately trained or supervised.

    All of this contributes to my view on the basis that if an Authority is lying or threatening over a Human Rights issue, then they are by definition not being transparent or seeking informed consent (assuming that that is a relevant consideration - it certainly is for PACE, but not sure about HRA).

    The letter windows go back years. They are, as you say, put there with the intention of creating fear and embarrassment, and as such must surely be part of that process of undermining transparency in the process.

    Beyond that I do not wish to engage, and it would be handy to have a convenient legal response to their bluster.
    Aside from practical steps like closing the front door, one of the most powerful legal devices you can use with them is to formally decline to be interviewed. This is an absolute right under PACE. You can make this an unconditional refusal, or you can tell them that it is necessary in order to assert other rights (such as the right to legal advice, the right to have a properly conducted interview, and the right to have an accurate, impartial and incorruptible record of interview).

    I asserted this right conditionally on the use of an appropriate recording methodology in writing to the BBC, and it was this that caused them to ban TVL from visiting me.
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 7:59 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 7:44 AM
    • 13,796 Posts
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    Cornucopia
    • #5
    • 15th Jul 18, 7:44 AM
    • #5
    • 15th Jul 18, 7:44 AM
    There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law...


    I see no requirement "that any intervention must be enabled by legislation (or similar official authority)".
    Originally posted by antrobus
    These two phrases are legally equivalent. This is especially true when you consider supplementary official guidance and case law.

    In my letters to the BBC I have given three additional references.

    If you want to examine them, here they are:-

    - https://rm.coe.int/168007ff47 (p25)

    - Shimovolos v. Russia, Application no. 30194/09, Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights, 21 June 2011

    - ... a_guide_for_public_authorities.pdf

    I can't see any mention of that.
    This is covered in the third link. It goes as far as to state:
    "Any restriction [to the broad rights of privacy and private life] must have a clear legal basis. The restriction must be set out in law, or in rules or guidance, and it must be communicated effectively to ensure that people to whom it applies can find out about it.

    "This will allow them to prepare to change their behaviour in good time if they
    are required to do so. That might mean making guidance or other rules publicly
    available, perhaps via the internet, via other partner organisations, or through
    cross-agency working".
    As I said, I struggle to find any justification for the BBC's secretive approach before any reading of law - the notion of submitting members of the Public to a secret investigative process that can end with criminal prosecution is simply not acceptable.
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 8:01 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • antrobus
    • By antrobus 15th Jul 18, 3:00 PM
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    antrobus
    • #6
    • 15th Jul 18, 3:00 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Jul 18, 3:00 PM
    These two phrases are legally equivalent. ... .
    Originally posted by Cornucopia

    That's very debatable. But in any case, why do you feel the need to rewrite legislation in your own words?

    The point I would make is that your OP is both misleading and wrong. Article 8 does not state what you claim. Whether or not there is something else in case law or whatever that supports your assertions is neither here nor there.

    Other than that I have no particular view on your campaign against the TVLA/BBC.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 3:09 PM
    • 13,796 Posts
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    Cornucopia
    • #7
    • 15th Jul 18, 3:09 PM
    • #7
    • 15th Jul 18, 3:09 PM
    That's very debatable. But in any case, why do you feel the need to rewrite legislation in your own words?
    Originally posted by antrobus
    Since all three of the official links I posted (a) confirm my interpretation, and (b) restate the legislation in their own words, I think it's an acceptable approach to (i) explore the meaning of the legislation, and (ii) fit inevitably very broad wording of the law to the narrower specifics of the matter in hand. The very heart of the point that I am making requires the explanation that "in accordance with the law" is interpreted by the Courts and the EU as meaning "as empowered by legislation or similar rules or guidance". I struggle to understand your objection in that context - how else do you express the official interpretation of law, other than by using more words?

    The point I would make is that your OP is both misleading and wrong. Article 8 does not state what you claim.
    It means what I said it does - and that is confirmed by the links I provided. The obvious question is if Article 8 does not mean what I (and my references ) say, then what does it mean? It's not clear if you are proposing a different meaning or not, or just disagreeing for the sake of it, but if you are then (given the official documents supporting my interpretation) I'd say it was a case of an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.

    In the meantime, I have slightly changed the wording to withstand a more pedantic reading.

    If/when a final explanation is eventually forthcoming from the BBC, one possible explanation is that they have failed to take suitably qualified advice from suitably qualified people, and therefore relied on some alternative interpretation of the legislation. I can imagine that someone who had not used Google (or a qualified Human Rights lawyer) to determine the meaning of "in accordance with the law" might interpret it to mean "generally, like, you know, not otherwise unlawful", and ISTR a previous BBC response to complaint that hinted at such an interpretation. That's all very well, except for three things: (a) conflicting case law which is hardly difficult to find, (b) it would render the clause rather moot, because what is the point of a law that enables anything that is not otherwise illegal, and (c) there are issues with what TVL does in lower level laws such the DPA, RIPA and PACE, and therefore at that detailed level, it would struggle to meet even the woollier, less challenging test of "not otherwise unlawful".

    Whether or not there is something else in case law or whatever that supports your assertions is neither here nor there.
    This is the HRA, remember - it's both constitutionally important and very succinct - it absolutely requires further explanation and exploration by relevant authorities including the EU, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Courts.

    Other than that I have no particular view on your campaign against the TVLA/BBC.
    Okay. But who is this "TVLA" you speak of?
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 3:51 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • Tom99
    • By Tom99 15th Jul 18, 4:12 PM
    • 5,107 Posts
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    Tom99
    • #8
    • 15th Jul 18, 4:12 PM
    • #8
    • 15th Jul 18, 4:12 PM
    Okay. But who is this "TVLA" you speak of?
    Originally posted by Cornucopia

    Television licensing authority I would guess.
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 15th Jul 18, 4:12 PM
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    unforeseen
    • #9
    • 15th Jul 18, 4:12 PM
    • #9
    • 15th Jul 18, 4:12 PM
    TVLA= TV Licence/Licensing Authority
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 4:25 PM
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    Cornucopia
    TVLA= TV Licence/Licensing Authority
    Originally posted by unforeseen
    No such thing.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 15th Jul 18, 4:31 PM
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    unforeseen
    The BBC is the licensing authority for TV licences hence they are the TV Licensing Authority.

    By referring to this side of the BBC as the TVLA it stops people getting mixed up between the BBC a program provider and broadcaster and the BBC as the licencing authorities for the TV licence.
    Last edited by unforeseen; 15-07-2018 at 4:33 PM.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 4:39 PM
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    Cornucopia
    The BBC is the licensing authority for TV licences hence they are the TV Licensing Authority.
    Originally posted by unforeseen
    The BBC is the licensing authority (small L, small A). But there is no entity called "TV Licensing Authority". The correct BBC brand name is "TV Licensing". That distinction is important, since "TV Licensing" is neither an authority in any meaningful or actual sense, or independent of the BBC. The powers the BBC has been granted are limited to those specified in Sections 363-366 of the Communications Act, which can broadly be paraphrased as to administer the Licences of those who have them, and to use Search Warrants to enforce the licensing requirements. Nothing else, and certainly nothing else that would breach individual rights to privacy.

    By all means quote any official references to "TVLA" or "TV Licensing Authority", but I don't think you will be able to. I don't count the Wikipedia entry.

    Or as TV Licensing themselves say: "'TV Licensing' is a trade mark of the BBC and is used under licence by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of the television licence fee and enforcement of the television licensing system.

    The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing functions and retains overall responsibility.


    By referring to this side of the BBC as the TVLA it stops people getting mixed up between the BBC a program provider and broadcaster and the BBC as the licencing authorities for the TV licence.
    There is already something of a conflict of interest, and as per my complaint a dog's dinner of conflicting laws and dubious assertions by the BBC. Misnaming the BBC brand name "TV Licensing" as "TVLA", and potentially conferring a status it does not have only confuses matters.
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 5:37 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • sevenhills
    • By sevenhills 15th Jul 18, 5:48 PM
    • 2,723 Posts
    • 1,013 Thanks
    sevenhills
    In February this year, I wrote the most recent of a series of letters to the BBC's Head of Revenue Management - the woman who effectively runs the TV Licensing operation through an outsource arrangement with Capita. I received no response.
    Originally posted by Cornucopia

    If you require information, perhaps you should try a freedom of information request?

    • essex boy
    • By essex boy 15th Jul 18, 6:02 PM
    • 1,865 Posts
    • 1,927 Thanks
    essex boy
    I live on a block of flats where there's a security buzzer to call before anyone gets to knock on my door
    I'm very security conscious
    When the TV licence bully knocked on my door without first using the security buzzer I told him I have privacy issues and nobody's allowed to knock on my door without using the security buzzer first
    I said it's by passing my security and and invasion of privacy
    If he wants to knock on my door he first has to use the buzzer and ask if I'll give him permission to knock on my front door
    He said he don't need permission, walked off with the hump and never returned
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 6:10 PM
    • 13,796 Posts
    • 17,050 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    If you require information, perhaps you should try a freedom of information request?
    Originally posted by sevenhills
    Tried that. It was refused. I should have escalated to the ICO at the time, although I'm not sure how much good it would have done.

    If I don't get anywhere with Tony Hall, I might have another go at FOI with a more loaded wording, and then go to the ICO with the Human Rights angle when the BBC decline to answer.

    This is about more than just the bare information (though that would be interesting). The mere fact that the BBC has failed to publish the legal basis for TV Licence enforcement operations is both unlawful (in my opinion, and in the context of interference with privacy) and highly suspicious (suggesting that the operation lacks credible legal justification).
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 7:10 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • antrobus
    • By antrobus 15th Jul 18, 6:13 PM
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    antrobus
    Television licensing authority I would guess.
    Originally posted by Tom99
    Correct.

    I've always known it as TVLA.

    Anyway if you type 'TVLA' into Google, no 1 search result is http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

    Google knows.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 6:18 PM
    • 13,796 Posts
    • 17,050 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    If many people are mistaken, it makes sense for Google to correct them. There are no official references to either "TVLA" or "TV Licensing Authority", as far as I can tell.

    I've always wondered if the confusion was the result of a crossover between DVLA and TVL?
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 15th Jul 18, 8:21 PM
    • 4,316 Posts
    • 5,767 Thanks
    unforeseen
    I live on a block of flats where there's a security buzzer to call before anyone gets to knock on my door
    I'm very security conscious
    When the TV licence bully knocked on my door without first using the security buzzer I told him I have privacy issues and nobody's allowed to knock on my door without using the security buzzer first
    I said it's by passing my security and and invasion of privacy
    If he wants to knock on my door he first has to use the buzzer and ask if I'll give him permission to knock on my front door
    He said he don't need permission, walked off with the hump and never returned
    Originally posted by essex boy
    If he can get to your door and knock on it why would he bother with using a buzzer?

    If somebody else wants to let them into your block then that is their right and they can then proceed to the address they wish to go to.

    Unfortunately you are not in a position to dictate who enters the building and how.

    He is right. Neither he nor anybody else has to play your game to knock on your door if there is another way.
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 15th Jul 18, 8:54 PM
    • 13,796 Posts
    • 17,050 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    If he can get to your door and knock on it why would he bother with using a buzzer?
    Originally posted by unforeseen
    Because that would be polite? And they are under a standing instruction to be polite. As they themselves say: "Explain why they are visiting and be polite, courteous and fair."

    If somebody else wants to let them into your block then that is their right and they can then proceed to the address they wish to go to.

    Unfortunately you are not in a position to dictate who enters the building and how.

    He is right. Neither he nor anybody else has to play your game to knock on your door if there is another way.
    Yes and no. If there is a building rule that people MUST buzz the correct buzzer to be admitted, then breaking that rule could make the TVL person a trespasser in the common parts of the building. If the residents own the Freehold of the building, then it may be possible to ban TVL staff from the common areas. If they then attended anyway, they would be trespassing and would be liable to civil legal action and forced removal.

    Even if that's not the case, Essex Boy can simply tell the TVL person that he believes that it's rude not to use the buzzer and refuse to speak with him for that reason, or simply not answer the door.

    TVL are there by common law implied consent, and they speak with members of the public only with their consent. Consent can be removed. Easily.
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 15-07-2018 at 9:23 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the The Money Savers Arms, Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there.

    Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • unforeseen
    • By unforeseen 15th Jul 18, 9:54 PM
    • 4,316 Posts
    • 5,767 Thanks
    unforeseen
    You really do live in cloud cuckoo land.
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