Politics

BBC could be at risk of ‘next Post Office scandal’ over prosecution powers for licence fee evasion, minister warns


THE BBC could be at the centre of the next Post Office scandal as thousands of people are prosecuted each month for licence fee evasion “behind closed doors”, a minister has warned.

Science Minister Andrew Griffith slammed the corporation’s funding model, insisting the almost £170 a month Brits are set to pay from April 2024 is “unsustainable”.

Science Minister Andrew Griffith has said it is possible the BBC's powers to prosecute could lead to a situation similar to the Post Office scandal

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Science Minister Andrew Griffith has said it is possible the BBC’s powers to prosecute could lead to a situation similar to the Post Office scandalCredit: Getty

He made the comments in a newsletter he wrote to his Arundel & South Downs constituents over the weekend.

Mr Griffith revealed he was asked at a town hall event whether something like the Post Office scandal, which saw hundreds of postal workers wrongly prosecuted, could happen again.

The Minister wrote: “Sadly, I do believe that it is possible. An average of about 3,400 people every month are prosecuted behind closed doors for not paying the BBC licence fee, according to the most recent Ministry of Justice figures.

“These cases are then prosecuted by the BBC’s own TV licensing arm.

“Last week, Lord MacDonald, a former Director of Public Prosecutions drew comparison to the Horizon scandal and said they should instead be dealt with by the independent Crown Prosecution Service. I do agree.

“The £170 a year BBC licence fee is unsustainable, and I am glad that the Government is exploring alternatives.”

Earlier this month, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer also said the Beeb — led by Tim Davie — should be stripped of its powers to prosecute people for non-payment of the licence fee.

Ms Frazer confirmed she would look into it at the next charter review period.

The BBC is led by Director-General Tim Davie

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The BBC is led by Director-General Tim DavieCredit: Getty





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