lime


The Times, 17th February 1993.

TV licence authority loses court case.

By Gillian Bowditch, Scotland Correspondent.

A man who has been pestered to buy a television licence for 16 years, in spite of never owning a television, won a victory over the licensing authority in the Scottish Appeal Court yesterday.

David Guest, 45, an electronics engineer, said the life of his family had been disrupted for months while he prepared for eight court hearings to overturn the effects of a prosecution based on incorrect information supplied by the licensing authority.

Yesterday the authority conceded that its procedure was flawed and it did not have sufficient information to justify the going to a sheriff to obtain a warrant to search Mr Guest's home in Balerno, near Edinburgh.

Mr Guest has written numerous letters over the past 16 years to inform the licensing authority that he did not have a television after he was instructed to buy a licence. Even so, he had several visits from "heavily built impolite men". The authorities obtained a search warrant in September 1991 for the house after claiming they had seen flickering light inside.

Mr Guest said: "We have never had a television set nor anything else which flickers. But they have continually harassed us, shouting through our letter box and ringing the door bell for five to ten minutes."

After a number of court hearings the authority notified the court that it would no longer oppose Mr Guest's proceedings to overturn the search warrant. Yesterday the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh granted suspension of the warrant and awarded expenses to Mr Guest. He estimates that defending himself has cost 5,000 Pounds.

Matthew Clarke QC, for the authority, told the court that the two officers had genuinely believed that they saw flickering light inside Mr Guest's home and believed it could have been a television. Mr Clarke said the authority did not accept Mr Guests allegations that it was guilty of "blatant and malicious fabrication" to obtain a warrant.

Mr Guest is taking advice about damages action and says the family did not have a proper holiday last year while he prepared his defence. He said his case came against a background of 400,000 people who were "routinely hounded" by the licensing authorities because they were eccentric enough not to own a television set.

(C) Times Newspapers Ltd. 1993.

Return to main page...


lime