Court filing on BBC "TV Licensing" identity fraud
The BBC and Capita have been caught playing a corrupt and risky corporate game
Ten days ago I managed to get into Darlington County Court just in time to file my appeal documents in my ongoing fight to stop the bullying by the BBC (aka “TV Licensing”). What started off as a bit of fun — turning the tables and charging them for my own media service of letter writing — has turned very serious with the exposure of their criminal scam to pretend “TV Licensing” brand is a real legal person. This allows the BBC to take the money, but to dump the reputation risks and court cases onto its subcontractor, Capita.
That is unlawful, because it is fraud. It also violates various other laws, including the ones on business name disclosure and consumer data protection. I have encountered one judge who was bamboozled by Capita’s very polished pitch, but now it gets interesting at the appeals court. I have encountered a judge who I have zero confidence in, but that’s being dealt with in the background as there is ample evidence he is involved in misconduct. I feel a bit sorry for the ordinary folk at Capita who just want to feed their family, but then again, there are victims of these crimes to consider too.
I want to save others from having to do the same legwork, so firstly here is the body of my witness statement that says “TV Licensing” is the BBC:
The BBC owns the TV Licensing trademark.
The BBC is the GDPR data controller for TV Licensing.
The BBC owns the intellectual property of TV Licensing.
The BBC is the owner of the SSL certificate for the tvlicensing.co.uk website.
The BBC approves the wording of bulk correspondence for TV Licensing.
The BBC fields Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests about TV Licensing.
The BBC manages TV Licensing commercial activity via BBC Studios.
The BBC owns the technical equipment used in licensing televisions.
“TV Licensing” is a trading name for the BBC, stated as such as recently as 2005 in its annual review and Freedom of Information Act responses.
The BBC uses “TV Licensing” as if It were a legal person on their website and correspondence. This includes a copyright notice “© TV Licensing” that presents it as a legal person.
All correspondence from TV Licensing uses the Royal Charter status of the BBC to avoid the need for compliance with The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015. This charter status cannot be delegated.
The BBC is the sole named licensing authority in the Communications Act 2003, and itself identifies TV Licensing as an entity having a “statutory duty”, which only the BBC has.
The BBC uses “TV Licensing” branding on its own internal documents, e.g. withdrawal of implied right of access, and consistently treats the term as an entity (rather than trademark). For instance: “To state the BBC’s policy on the steps taken when people notify the BBC or TV Licensing…”.
The BBC states (in a freedom of information response) “The BBC is a public authority in respect of its television licensing functions and retains overall responsibility.”
In a 2005 Freedom of Information Act response the BBC states that “…the BBC as Licensing Authority is accountable for TV Licensing’s activities…”.
The BBC interchangeably uses its own name and “TV Licensing”, for instance “The BBC can only satisfy these conditions if it has sought to communicate with the individual and has sought to gain entry to the premises without a warrant.”
For Capita to suddenly leap in and say “we are ‘TV Licensing’” clearly goes against the facts.
Next is my reply to the defence that Capita put in.
For the purposes of this statement and appeal, “Defendant” refers to Capita Business Services Ltd. Claimant asserts that the correct defendant is the BBC, as the only possibly legal person that can lawfully and logically have the alias “TV Licensing” (see separate witness statement).
Defendant states “in their capacity as TV Licensing”, but this is meaningless as there is no such capacity, since it is only a trademark. Capita are only a sub-contractor of the brand owner, the BBC, and thus lack standing. This is sophistry to attempt to elevate Capita into being principal, not agent.
Defendant states Capita “have a statutory remit”, but this is a misrepresentation. Solely the BBC has the statutory remit under the Communications Act 2003 as licensing authority, and the difference matters in this context. Capita are only acting as agent of the BBC, and thus lack standing to become “TV Licensing”.
Defendant mentions a criminal offence of using a television receiver without a license, as if to imply the Claimant is breaking the law. This is to lead the court into misframing this as being about public law. There is no implication that Claimant has or uses a television, whether licensed or unlicensed. Furthermore, it is only a matter for the BBC to prosecute, with Capita solely providing underlying administrative support. Finally, there is a presumption of innocence in English law, which Claimant is entitled to enjoy.
Defendant implies there is a right to correspond with Claimant beyond the point where Claimant has asked for no further correspondence. They might wish for there to be so, but there is no statute that supports this, expressly or implied. Therefore, all correspondence after that point is harassment, and Claimant is lawfully entitled to offer a fee schedule for unwanted and unsolicited correspondence.
Defendant states Claimant has “repeatedly refused to confirm the licensable status of his address”. This implies there as a lawful obligation to do so, where there is none whatsoever, as acknowledged in Freedom of Information Act responses by the BBC. In the absence of such an obligation, the BBC uses an escalating series of threats (including house visits) to subjugate the householder into the behaviour it seeks, which is textbook blackmail and abhorrent to civil liberties.
Defendant asserts that were acting in their capacity as TV Licensing and the course of conduct complained of was in line with their statutory duty. Modulo the observations above regarding capacity, authority, and standing, there is nothing in the Communications Act 2003 that directs the BBC, or its agents, to behave in a threatening or intimidatory manner towards the public.
Specifically, the Communications Act 2003 gives the BBC (not Capita) authority to administrate television licensing in Sections 364 and 365, and the power to apply for warrants for enforcement (only) in Section 366, but there is no statutory authority for intimidatory letter writing, despite the implication there is.
That the Claimant was wise enough to offer a schedule of fees is a salutary lesson to the BBC in future. Capita are appealing to authority they lack, both in standing and substance. No statute law causes the public to lose its common law right to peaceful enjoyment of their home. No statute prevents a member of the public offering a schedule of fees to correspond further beyond what is lawfully required of them.
Defendant asserts that their actions were necessary, but this includes sending unsolicited and unwanted policy statements on the nature of television licensing, a subject as unrelated to the Claimant as helicopter pilot licensing and wild animal licensing. Furthermore, Defendant sent correspondence implying Claimant has made statements about television ownership that were untrue, forcing Claimant to rebut these. It stretches credulity that these actions were necessary given all the Claimant had asked was a cessation of correspondence and be left in peace.
Defendant claims that a breach of contract is unsustainable, but equity says otherwise. If the boot were on the other foot, and the Claimant was using the BBC’s media services, the Defendant would doubtless state Claimant should pay. It just happens that the Claimant’s media service is professional correspondence, shared to a large public audience including paying readers. If Defendant does not wish to partake, they need do nothing.
Defendant claims there was no intention to enter legal relations with Claimant, but (as the BBC) their performance says otherwise, over and over. This case is no different in principle to a “no trespass” notice with a schedule of fees. Indeed, Claimant has withdrawn implied right of access, and that very right to charge for trespass would apply here. The principle has merely been extended to offer the BBC to continue corresponding with Claimant, outwith their statutory duty, at their option, subject to a fee schedule.
Defendant mentions “claims of theft” as if to dismiss the claim as vexatious, but Claimant refers to Theft Act 1968 section 21. Actions of TV Licensing exactly fit this crime of blackmail, by extorting a statement out of a member of the public using menaces.
Defendant states Claimant’s case is “nonsensical” despite having paid out for a comparable claim previously in 2014 as reported in the national press, which was not disclosed to Court.
Defendant claims not to have received the one critical piece of correspondence with the original claim, despite their sole function being administration, and every other piece of correspondence being received. Furthermore, there is reports of similar behaviour in many other cases with claims being initially “lost” and then an application for set-aside to avoid contesting them.
Fundamentally, “TV Licensing” is the BBC, and all these matters of defence of claim are moot bar standing. Capita have engaged in a serious misrepresentation to the court by claiming to be the defendant when the copious evidence above shows they are not. The law does not permit “TV Licensing” to act as a legal quasi-person chameleon that can change colour between principal and agent on whim.
The matter under contention is self-evidently not a question of public law and enforcement of the licensing of televisions, but rather a matter of private law and the existence of an enforceable implied contract between Claimant and BBC t/a TV Licensing for the former’s correspondence services. To suggest otherwise is to give Defendant and/or the BBC carte blanche to subject the public to unbounded abuse without cost or consequences.
Finally, there are the grounds for my appeal:
With respect to the standing of Capita to apply to the court to set aside the default judgment, the following skeleton argument is offered.
The BBC is deceptively presenting the trademark “TV Licensing” as if it were a legal person or statutory authority, including in copyright notices. This is suggestive of a shell game between the BBC and Capita to assign all revenues to one party, and (cash or PR) liabilities to another. This is in violation of Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006, which pertains to fraud by false representation. For the court to permit anyone other than the BBC to be “TV Licensing” is to endorse this fraud — Fraus est celare fraudem.
Equity requires that the court does not reward this devious behaviour by putting a litigant in person through unnecessary ordeals and costs in order to achieve an outcome. By allowing the motion to set aside the default judgment, Judge Wood erred, assisting Capita to protect the BBC from bad publicity and legal liability through the exhaustion of a litigant in person via illicit means of a sub-contractor faking standing.
Claimant wrote to Capita on 22nd March 2023 pointing out they have no standing and inviting them to withdraw, served via email and post. They failed to respond, and therefore by acquiescence assume that they agree they have no standing and are unable to prove the same. The onus is on them to prove standing, which naturally they cannot. Judge Wood failed to consider this matter.
Granting standing to Capita so they can act as principal makes them a data controller under the Data Protection Act 2018, and violates GDPR. Claimant has never given Capita permission to act as data controller. This would give rise to a fresh action by Claimant against Capita, and no court can aid any party to break the law. Indeed, their very application and attendance was unlawful, since it could only have been as agent of the BBC, while they pretended to be principal.
Capita have at no time made the appropriate corporate disclosures as being the relevant party acting as “TV Licensing”. By granting standing, the Court will have aided them in breaking the The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015.
By granting standing to Capita, the court is effectively giving the BBC a liability shield and ability to distance itself unlawfully from the activities being conducted as “TV Licensing”.
The facts mean that it is irrational to assign “TV Licensing” to any entity other than the BBC as its trading name (see attached witness statement), and no reasonable judge could ever construe “TV Licensing” to be anyone other than the BBC.
By elevating one BBC sub-contractor or brand licensee to having standing, it effectively elevates all of them, and any could leap in and claim to have standing for any activity conducted under the legal chameleon “TV Licensing”. This is against the public interest.
With respect to the set aside being granted, the following skeleton argument is offered:
Capita made numerous false or misleading statements, most specifically that they are acting under statutory duty to harass or intimidate the public when asked to desist, when there is no such requirement in the Communications Act 2003. Their application should be dismissed on this basis as lacking integrity and candour, as well as inventing law that does not exist.
Judge Wood violated impartiality by allowing Capita to “lose” the original claim in a manner that would have been unlikely to be granted if the roles had been reversed (e.g. a member of the public being prosecuted for license evasion). The data speaks for itself: not responding to claims and then seeking to set default judgments aside is a policy of Capita and the BBC, not an accident. On this basis it should be dismissed.
It’s really, really, really obvious that Capita don’t have standing, and that the BBC is principal, and they are agent. That I have sued “TV Licensing” merely mirrors that they have only ever presented themselves as such, and are committing fraud by pretending it is a legal person. The rules of equity say that I cannot be punished for their lack of clean hands. Are Capita’s lawyers really going to risk prison for fraud if they keep pushing this angle? Can we get the BBC into court to defend what they are doing? Is there an appeals judge in England that wants to make their career with a landmark ruling?
2024 is going to be spectacular on every possible axis.
(Now you can see why I have been busy and not posting much!)
Future of Communications is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.