The BBC’s tentacles extend far and wide – and not only in broadcasting and journalism. Now the Sentencing Council has been infiltrated. It is reported in today’s Daily Mail that those who fail to buy a TV licence, but instead choose to spend their money on subscriptions to other services such as Sky, face a doubling of the fines handed out to them by magistrates.

Sentencing Council member and magistrate Jill Gramann said: ‘Our revision of the guidelines will ensure magistrates in England and Wales have clear guidance using a consistent approach to help them sentence fairly and proportionately.’ Of course. Fining people £2,000 for not coughing-up the required amount to pay for the telly tax, because they don’t watch the Beeb and prefer to watch something they choose to pay for, is down right criminal. How dare they?

Of course, it is a criminal offence, unlike not paying your gas or electricity bill – or your Sky TV bill – which are civil offences.

Here’s what Philip Davies MP, a Freedom Association Council member, had to say:

‘It is amazing that this idea has come from the Sentencing Council, which is full of left-wing and liberal lawyers and judges who want to reduce sentences all the time. The one thing they will get tough over is paying your TV licence fee. The offence of not paying your TV licence fee should be decriminalised. It should not be an offence at all.’

It should not be a criminal offence. Last year the House of Lords rejected plans to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, helped by the BBC’s “backwoodsmen”, which took them over the winning line. In the meantime it appears that the BBC is determined to make as much money as it can out of non-payment until finally it becomes a civil offence. All done, no doubt, in the finest tradition of public service broadcasting.

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