You can’t hide dirty hands with smoke or mirrors

BBC/Capita get a temporary win, but have opened themselves up to a big problem

Martin Geddes in front of court house

[Writing this article was interrupted by a criminal aggravated trespass incident by a Durham County Council employee… but I have kept the text as it was from when I was typing it last Friday.]

I had my first ever day in court today, at least as an active participant rather than a passive observer. As I wrote yesterday, I was up against Capita Business Services Ltd, the outsourcer for BBC/TV Licensing, who had applied to set aside my default judgment for £5k for using my classy correspondence services and infringing my right to privacy. They got their set aside application accepted, but as is often the case, on reflection we sometimes have to lose battles in order to win wars, and I can now see how that is the situation here.

Let me open by saying that fighting the entrenched system has a personal cost. I have had to do a 400 mile round trip drive to be here today. I didn’t get to sleep until gone 2am, and woke up early, as this is stressful stuff in the middle of a house move. For me, this isn’t about my writing services or the principal versus agent status of Capita and the BBC. It is about fighting the funding source of a corrupt state media enterprise responsible for the deaths of many thousands of my fellow countrymen, as well as innumerable victims of state violence abroad.

I feel sickened every time I go near the BBC or its hired henchmen, and would rather fill my days with making and selling nice art photos, or assembling new books with compendia of my essays. But you have to turn up to fight if you want to learn and preserve your honour; to be cowardly is to automatically lose in the worst way. This kind of court case is the information equivalent of being a sewage worker, and with only spiritual protective clothing for your soul. No matter how well you do the job, you are going to end up smelling of the poo of corruption.

Welcome to Darlington

My argument was mainly based on Capita having no standing, since the BBC themselves admit that they are the principal. As a secondary matter, Capita have a habit of losing paperwork and getting default judgment against themselves, and lied to the court in their application. Those issues were dismissed, and whether they are relevant or not is unimportant from this point onwards. The judge had clearly indicated from the outset that he wanted to follow the non-discretionary nature of his set aside, and all that was in the way was my argument that Capita did not have standing to even be the applicant.

Here is the heart of the issue: the BBC and Capita present themselves as the trademark “TV Licensing” and never disclose which entity you are interacting with. They do not have “clean hands”, as they are deliberately confusing the public as shown by the copyright notice. A trademark cannot own copyright, yet they do so, knowingly confusing the public and deliberately obfuscating who is liable. It is a smoke and mirrors game, which has persisted for too long. They swap over the principal and agent relationship at will to suit themselves, at the expense of the general public.

The judge used this against me, saying I had failed to identify the party being the defendant in my filing, and therefore giving Capita the ability the step in and claim to be the defendant. But this is against equity — it rewards their bad behaviour. It is also against the basic tenets of principal and agent law. There is nothing that gives Capita such standing! At no point have “TV Licensing” disclosed to me that they are Capita Business Services Ltd; only the BBC is lawfully entitled to act this way via its royal charter status.

The judge is aiding and abetting them breaking the law on business disclosure. The court today endorsed the ability of Capita to:

  • Substitute themselves for the BBC at will, giving the BBC a liability shield against the public interest.
  • Fail to disclose themselves as required by law, allowing them to operate silently using a third party trademark.
  • Trample my GDPR data protection rights by using my data as principal without my consent.

I sued the trademark “TV Licensing”, and any confusion is on them, not me. That is the basis for my ability to appeal today’s ruling, as a public interest matter. The judge did not consider a single one of my valid reasons to reject their standing or application. I had two supporters in attendance, and one noticed that as soon as I had shown that Capita and the BBC were acting deceptively, the judge didn’t look me in the eyes again, and kept his head down at his paperwork. Unconsciously he felt shame, as he knew deep inside that I was telling the truth.

The court usher also noted as we were waiting that we were “not her usual crowd” — and she was right! Anti-corruption campaigners are a rarity in court. TV Licensing also have a major office in Darlington, and by coincidence I have been living close by for most of the last 18 months or so. TV Licensing (in their guise as Capita) effectively is a major “customer” of the court system (against license evaders). At the end of the day the courts are a business like anyone else, doing “adjudication as a service”. Are they going to go out of their way to upset one of the entities that pays their day to day bills? Probably not.

British building

There are some lessons from today that are worth highlighting:

  • What I got right was having a “McKenzie friend” supporter plus one other member of the public as “court auditor”, which forced the judge into good behaviour. We all need to step up and make an effort to publicise and attend public interest hearings, to show that the public is genuinely interested.
  • I also produced a skeleton argument, which is material that can be used in an appeal, and that was a good move. I had done my research well, and given Capita opportunity to step aside and avoid abusing my personal data. Every effort has been made to find a resolution and avoid a court hearing.
  • What I struggled with was having my talking points lined up perfectly, and being willing to use the court time to my advantage. It was my first go, and I felt a bit of a rookie. On reflection, I wish I had been to court hearings beforehand to gain experience of the process and environment. I wasn’t quite as impactful as I could have been, if I had more confidence.
  • Silly “small stuff” does matter. I didn’t have an iron to hand for my shirt, as ironing is against my religion. My cufflinks had all been moved hundreds of miles away, meaning I had to resort to my “emergency cufflinks” that have done thousands of miles of travel in my laptop bag. My car still has an electrical fault, meaning I worry about it starting. It all takes your energy, leaving less for the real action.
  • You need to be clear on the burden of proof. It was for Capita to show that they have standing, not merely assert it. The court has its own language, and you need to stay in their framing and system, and it takes practise to master. In retrospect I wish I had an opportunity to rehearse and practise, maybe with an “awake” lawyer who could act as a “severe” judge to get me to up my game. You only get a single shot at making your case.
Cuff links

I now have two legal routes: the original claim for £5k, for which Capita will file a defence, and I can appeal this set aside motion directly. This is actually a strategic loss for Capita and the BBC, since the last thing they want is a court ruling that sets a precedent on who “TV Licensing” really is. So by having this setback, I am paradoxically in a better place to address the real issue, which is not the harassing letters, but the lack of transparency and accountability for the BBC and Capita. Every move leads to more exposure of their identity swap scam, and at a cost I can afford.

An appeal does involve money and risks, and I now need to spend considerable time working on that and understanding the process. As I said in my last newsletter, I can only do this because of the support of my loyal readers, who have my back. I can’t be researching (and resting) as well as writing with my usual intensity, so if there are gaps in my output, please be assured that it is because I have my attention elsewhere for good reasons. It’s not just the admin and legal legwork, you also need time away from the “drains of dirty deceit” to stay mentally and spiritually healthy.

Some day it will be common knowledge that the BBC was pushing a democide via the jabs, and the attitude of courts will be the polar opposite. Rather than them and their agents getting the automatic benefit of the doubt, and the powerful supported in their entrenched games. Any sign of “dirty hands” will see intense scrutiny and skepticism of their motives. These institutions will soon need deep reform, if they last at all. It may be awkward and painful to hold them to account in a rigged court system, but this all lays the groundwork for a new and better media landscape that does not depend on smoke and mirrors to operate.