The Scottish Resistance to the BBC Tax: Evasion, Search Warrants, Fines and Imprisonment: A comment and statistics from Ludo Thierry


(c) 2015

This is taken from a comment below one of my articles, by Ludo Thierry. It far surpasses my starter for information value so I wanted it to get more profile by posting it separately.

Kulaprahba’s calculations (another contributor) are borne out by no less an authority than the House of Commons Library which very recently produced a report (info below):

Estimated TV licence evasion rate was between 6.2% and 7.2% in 2015/16: The highest evasion rate (10%) was recorded in Scotland. The evasion rate in Northern Ireland stood at 9%. In England and Wales, the evasion rate stood at 6%.

So, we might not be qualifying for major international tournaments in the gents’ footy these days – but, by God, we’re winning the beeb tax licence evasion stakes.

There are a few other beeb licence tax metrics I came across that I hope are interesting.

Search warrants (info from wicki): Information provided by the Scottish Court Service suggests that TV Licensing search warrant applications in Scotland are virtually non-existent. In their response to a FOI request the Scottish Court Service confirmed that no search warrant applications were made to courts in Scotland’s two largest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, in the three-and-a-half years between 1 January 2011 and 21 July 2014.

Court action (info from wicki): In 2014, 204,018 people were prosecuted or fined for TV licence offences: 185,580 in England and Wales, (173,044 in England and 12,536 in Wales), 4,905 people in Northern Ireland and 15 in the Isle of Man. In Scotland, there were 13,486 cases disposed of via an out of court fine and 32 prosecuted via the courts in 2013-2014

‘Fines’ (info from wicki): The average fine is £170 in England and Wales, £80 in Northern Ireland, £75 in Scotland (out-of-court disposal)

(Instead of prosecution, in Scotland, TV licence fee evaders are usually asked by the Procurator Fiscal to pay a fiscal fine and a small number are simply given a warning. For example, in 2013-2014, just 10 cases reached the courts whereas 12,969 people were asked to pay a fiscal fine, no action was taken in 275 cases, and 174 people were sent a warning. In addition, 2 people were asked to pay compensation and 1 person was offered the chance to pay a combination of fiscal fine and compensation. In 2013-14, almost all of the fiscal fines (12,603 out of 12,969) were at the level 2 rate of £75)

Imprisonment (info from wicki): In England and Wales, 39 people were given an average of 20 days in 2014 (compared to 32 in 2013 and 51 in 2012). There were no custodial sentences imposed during the 5-year period 2009-10 to 2013-14 in Scotland.

Before we get too impressed at all these metrics demonstrating Scotland to be following a much more enlightened path – let’s just remember who is having the last laugh here (info from Republic of Scotland website below):

Page 55 of the BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17 contains a table showing how many people the BBC employs in different parts of the UK. I have summarised the results for London and Scotland below.

Location % of UK Population % of UK PSB Staff (equivalent full time)
London 13.3% 47%
Scotland 8.3% 7%

London’s population is only 60% greater that Scotland’s but the BBC employs 570% more Londoners that Scots. Also remember that most, if not all, of these London employees will be paid the London weighting subsidy which comes out of the BBC tax.

Good to see La Resistance to the beeb tax is apparently alive and kicking here in Scotland (and that the Scottish legal system seems much less inclined to allow itself to be harnessed as an unpaid (but very costly to the Scottish exchequer) tax collector for the massively overpaid beeb propaganda-mongers).

Footnote: See this from an angry Daily Torygraph in 2016:

‘No Scots jailed for dodging licence fee as calls for scrapping criminal penalties grow louder’

No Scots were jailed for the offence in more than five years due to legal reforms, while thousands from England and Wales are punished


25 thoughts on “The Scottish Resistance to the BBC Tax: Evasion, Search Warrants, Fines and Imprisonment: A comment and statistics from Ludo Thierry

  1. Clydebuilt October 14, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Fascinating information Ludo. Surely this is political. Not wanting to make martyrs; nor wanting to attract people’s attention to the anti Scottish bias of the BBC in Scotland.
    There was a campaign of not paying the licence fee in NI during the Troubles by the Republican side. Were there any repercussions? Need to check it out.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Stewart McCarroll (@quaichmaker) October 14, 2017 / 12:20 pm

    There are probably quite a few household like ours. In late September 2014 we disconnected the satellite dish, removed our TV aerial and just flat refused to use UK catchup services. Netflix, Amazon and YouTube are the only services we use. Blood pressure down, Entertainment levels up!


    • johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 6:22 pm

      Well done. My wife needs Strictly and things like Dr Forster, she says.


    • Colin Angus Mackay October 15, 2017 / 11:02 am

      Yes – That’s pretty much what we did. My other half used to call Thursday night’s “Shout at the TV night” – We’re a much more relaxed household now.


  3. Brian October 14, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    Thanks, a fascinating piece of analysis. Might also be worth including the data on how much of the License Fee paid in Scotland is reinvested in Scotland by the BBC.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eric Dodd October 16, 2017 / 1:38 pm

      Been done Brian. Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee (Chair : Joan McAlpine MSP) grilled BBC Scotland bosses last year. Can’t remember the details but it’s all on the Holyrood website.
      I do remember McQuarrie&Co struggling to answer why snooker from Sheffield and Question Time was paid for from BBC Scotland resources ! Also seem to remember BBC Wales receiving a much higher proportionate payment than BBC Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eric Dodd October 16, 2017 / 2:12 pm

      Found it. Meeting actually took place on 23rd Feb this year. In 2015/16 BBC Scotland received 55% of the licence fee raised in Scotland. BBC NI got 75%, with BBC Wales receiving 95%.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Brian October 14, 2017 / 1:00 pm

    Oops, I hadn’t seen the next post…sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ja500001 October 14, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    Netflix, 4od, itv player and YouTube for us since 2014. Great for kids and we choose to watch what we want rather than being programmed. Yes the word is programs. What is the BBC’s programming schedule tonight lol.

    They keep sending letter after letter saying we’re breaking the law, they’ve opened an investigation, are going to visit us in 2 weeks time on a certain date – so you must make sure you are in (lol again), etc etc. Will let them keep sending their threatening marketing letters as long as they want. It costs them money after all, postage, stationary, printing, admin etc.



  6. Ludo Thierry October 14, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    Hi John and the AllStars – Gosh John – I would have checked my grammar and spelling had I realised my post would end up as an article!!

    Thanks for all the positive feedback – much appreciated. I suspect I’m going to be somewhat out of circulation for a bit due to work commitments – but I will defo be keeping an eye on all John’s new articles (and guest posts).

    This thread is on a media topic so I am not drifting far off topic if I add a wee update on the Alex Salmond ? bid for The Hootsmon.

    Sky News have carried the story – (but not seen it appearing generally) – of Christen Ager- Hanssen (Norwegian – but London based – investor in Johnston Press) starting to make moves. (see below):

    The second-largest investor in Johnston Press, the owner of The Scotsman and i newspapers, will next week ignite a battle for control of its board by demanding a shareholder meeting to oust its chairman.

    Sky News has learnt that Christen Ager-Hanssen, a Norwegian businessman whose investment vehicle Custos owns 12.6% of the British media group, plans to write to Johnston Press’s board in the coming days to requisition an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

    Sources said that Mr Ager-Hanssen was expected to seek the removal of Camilla Rhodes, the company’s interim chairman, and to try to install himself in her place.
    He is also thought likely to demand other changes to the composition of Johnston Press’ board.

    “Rather than a strategic review of the refinancing or organising ad hoc bondholder committees, what Johnston Press needs is a radical shake-up of its business model – and that is what I will do.”

    Mr Ager-Hanssen’s demand will come just days after Alex Salmond, the former Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, was linked to a potential takeover bid for The Scotsman.

    Johnston Press has been struggling under a mountainous debt burden for years, and now has a stock market value of just £15.35m.

    As well as The Scotsman and the i newspapers, it owns dozens of regional titles, such as the Yorkshire Post, Sussex Express and Wigan Observer.

    Run by Ashley Highfield, a former BBC and Microsoft executive, Johnston Press has been caught in the media maelstrom which has decimated print advertising revenues as readers choose to consume news on free digital platforms instead.

    Note that CEO Ashley Highfield is a former beeb person (they fairly get around don’t they?). His salary and remuneration package is worthy of note (a few snippets reporting his pay below):

    according to its 2012 accounts
    The chief executive of troubled publisher Johnston Press earned more than £700,000 last year.
    In his first full year in the job, Ashley Highfield earned a £400,000 salary, with bonuses and pension contributions of £301,000.

    Chief Executive Ashley Highfield received a 1.65 million pound pay package in 2014 after overseeing the restructuring, with 483,000 pounds awarded as a bonus, the annual report showed. His salary fell 65 percent to 581,000 pounds in 2015.

    15 May 2017 • 2:04pm
    The troubled newspaper owner Johnston Press has caved in to shareholder anger over plans to offer chief executive Ashley Highfield a bigger bonus this year, all in cash.
    The 250-year-old publisher, which is threatened with a financial crunch as it attempts to restructure heavy debts, scrapped planned increases to the maximum possible payouts to Mr Highfield and chief financial officer David King.

    Mr Highfield’s bonus will remain capped at 120pc of his £430,000 salary under a new three-year remuneration policy. Johnston Press had planned to increase the top payout to 180pc, or £774,000. Mr King’s maximum bonus will stay at 100pc, compared with a proposal of 165pc.
    The pair received no bonuses last year after Johnston Press missed all its performance targets. Mr Highfield’s total pay including pension was £556,000, plus share options with a face value of £537,500 that vest after three years.

    Presumably the JP board don’t believe in performance related pay? (see below):

    JP revealed in its annual results that it had recorded a pre-tax loss of £300m in 2016.
    The report stated continued difficult trading conditions, which the company blamed partly on the Brexit vote, have forced it to write-down the value of its regional titles and other print assets by a total of £344m

    Note that the Board Chairman (Interim) that Mr. Ager-Christensson is challenging is a person called Camilla Rhodes (see below):

    Joined the Board in 2009. Chair of the Remuneration Committee. Member of the Audit Committee and Member (and Interim Chair) of the Nomination Committee. Former Chief Executive Officer of News Magazines Ltd and Managing Director of Times Newspapers and News Group Newspapers, News International.

    Yes – Camilla is the Chair of the remuneration committee that has been force-feeding poor Ashley Highfield all that money (whilst the company has been failing catastrophically).

    Interesting to see that Camilla spent 28 years with Murdoch’s News International (maybe that explains something about the Hootsmon’s current content and editorial line?).

    I know nothing about Mr. Ager-Hanssen or his philosophy or politics – but – given the influence (declining for sure) that JP continue to exercise on Scottish life, culture and politics I reckon his ‘new broom’ could only be beneficial. (Many observers would look at JP and conclude that the board – or elements of it – are akin to bandits who are plundering the company, without quarter or mercy shown).

    Maybe Big Eck is fishing in troubled waters – and – in his usual way – finding shrewd (and downright masterly) methods of pushing forward Scotland’s interests?

    More power to your elbow Eck – we’ll await any developments with interest.

    Cheers, Ludo


  7. johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 8:42 am

    Interesting indeed. Eck’s cards close to his chest? And, 1 012 readers so far.


  8. johnrobertson834 October 15, 2017 / 8:44 am

    Including 32 from Mongolia (to the site as a whole maybe not this article, who know?)


      • Sam October 15, 2017 / 7:31 pm

        Scotland’s judges will likely be Tories, members of the establishment. The same establishment that doesn’t want to give TV licence dodgers any publicity.
        As one of your contributors said earlier, it’s political.


  9. Ludo Thierry October 15, 2017 / 9:58 pm

    Hi John – Hi Sam .

    Apparently the Magistrates Association south of the border have been actively arguing against criminal proceedings for many years (see below):

    A spokesman for the Magistrates’ Association said: ‘For almost 20 years we have been calling for changes in the law so that non-payment of TV licences is decriminalised.
    ‘It had been hoped that perhaps a change might be brought about when the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting was completed but as yet there are no plans for the BBC to move to a subscription.’

    (The Magistrates’ Courts deal with the non-payment of licence cases down south – Imprisonment is pursued in some non-payment of fines circumstances – I don’t know how the Court system works down south so am unsure whether these cases have moved beyond the Magistrates’ Courts?).

    There is an identifiable difference in approach by the legal authorities north and south of the border in terms of fines (monetary level of fines lower in Scotland, ratio of fines imposed lower in Scotland, non-court process involved when fines are imposed in Scotland). There is also an identifiable difference in willingness to provide search warrants (see below – from wicki):

    Data on the number of search warrants executed per year in the whole of the UK are not collated or held centrally by the various judicial bodies of the state. However, the BBC, itself, holds the information some of which has become available due to FOI requests. For example, in the financial year 2014/15, TV Licensing applied for 256 warrants to serve in the UK. 167 warrants were granted by the courts of which 115 were executed. In the same year in Scotland NO WARRANTS were applied for or served whilst in Northern Ireland 12 warrants were granted and 7 executed in the year

    As explained in the original article, associated custodial sentences are still (shamefully) occurring IN Ruk – but not in Scotland.

    Whatever way one cuts it there seems to be a tangible (significantly more enlightened) difference in approach by the Crown Office and Fiscal Service in Scotland compared to their opposite numbers in rUK.

    I feel this clear difference in approach is something that those resident in Scotland can take pride in.

    The beeb itself recognises that the non-payment of beeb television tax involves more than those who are financially unable to pay (see beeb submission to Information Commissioner’s Office quote below):

    One reason given by the BBC for evasion is lack of money in a household. For example, in the BBC Full Financial Statement 2012/13 the BBC says: ‘as household budgets come under pressure, we are starting to see an increase in licence fee evasion rates over their prior year level’. However, this is not the only reason given for TV licence evasion, since according to a submission made by the BBC to the Information Commissioner’s Office: ‘the BBC said that it is also aware that a growing number of individuals deliberately evade the licence fee due to dissatisfaction with the BBC’.

    The beeb themselves are recognising that “..a growing number..” of people are opting out due to “..dissatisfaction with the BBC” – Well ain’t that the truth?!! (Dissatisfaction guaranteed from beeb Jockland)

    Ta, Ludo


  10. johnrobertson834 October 16, 2017 / 1:34 pm

    More evidence that we’re different enough to want our own show?


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