Retiree gets 100th ‘intimidating’ letter from TV Licensing despite not owning a telly since 1997

Retired bank manager gets his 100th ‘intimidating’ letter from TV Licensing even though he hasn’t owned a telly since 1997

  • Retired bank manager Derek Cheesbrough dropped TV 22 years ago in 1997
  • Since binning the box, he has received a monthly letter saying he’s a lawbreaker 
  • The pensioner has just received his 100th letter demanding he pay for his TV

A retired bank manager has blasted TV Licensing for sending him 100 ‘intimidating’ despite not owning a television since 1997.

Derek Cheesbrough, of Plymouth, Devon, decided he’d had enough of television 22 years ago and wrote to officials telling them he’d be getting rid of his TV set.

Since then they have continued to send him letters telling him to get a television licence.

Derek has now received his 100th monthly warning – each one advising him of the consequences of illegal viewing.

‘Suitably intimidating’: One hundred letters have been sent to Derek with the promise of a knock on his door day or night

He claims the ‘threats’ are ‘a ruthless, uncaring programme of inducing mental duress to require an innocent recipient to reply when they have no legal obligation to do so’.

Derek said: ‘I’ve had 100 letters, each threatening a knock on the door any time day or night, but no one has ever come.

‘They arrive in a suitably intimidating red envelope.’

Mr Cheesbrough does not have the internet at home and does not own a smartphone.

He said he wanted to speak out as he fears that some elderly people who don’t watch television might be intimidated into stumping up.

An unlikely lawbreaker: Within a month of cancelling his licence in 1997 Derek began to receive letters saying he was breaking the law

An unlikely lawbreaker: Within a month of cancelling his licence in 1997 Derek began to receive letters saying he was breaking the law

I don’t watch TV do I need a licence? 

You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record programmes as they’re being shown live on an online TV service or if you download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

Currently, the only people exempt from paying for a TV licence is anyone over the age of 75.

However, it was announced in June 2019 that most over this age would lose their free licence. 

He previously hit the headlines when he received his 50th letter, which prompted some people to get in touch.

‘I had letters from a 92-year-old blind woman from Cornwall, and a 72-year-old living on the moors with no TV reception,’ he said.

The BBC outsources licence fee collections to Capita.

A TV Licensing spokesperson said: ‘We try not to trouble people who genuinely don’t need a licence.

‘We have a duty to enforce the law and so we write to all addresses where there is no TV licence or a current declaration to say that one isn’t needed.’

Mr Cheesbrough said he gave up television in 1997 as he thought he was ‘one of those clever people who could be selective and switch off’.

‘But one evening I found myself having spent two hours watching rubbish,’ he said.

‘So I wrote to TV Licensing to say I was dispensing with my set and would contact them if ever I decided to get another one.

‘Within a week I had a letter from Capita telling me I was breaking the law.’

Mr Cheesbrough agreed that a less threatening letter, sent out once a year, would be less problematic.

The BBC controversially announced in June that most over-75s would lose free licences.