TV licence evader refused to pay because the ‘BBC covered up facts about 9/11 and claimed tower fell 20 minutes before it did’
- Tony Rooke represented himself at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in Sussex
- Told inspector on visit in May 2012 that he would not be paying licence fee
- Rooke said he was withholding fee under Section 15 of Terrorism Act 2000
- This states it’s an offence for someone to provide funds used for terrorism
- He said he didn’t want to give money to an organisation ‘funding terrorism’
- Rooke said BBC claimed World Trade Centre 7 fell 20 minutes before it did
- But judge made Rooke pay £200 costs and gave him conditional discharge
By Mark Duell
PUBLISHED: 18:49, 25 February 2013 | UPDATED: 18:51, 25 February 2013
A 49-year-old man refused to pay his TV licence because he believed the BBC covered up facts about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Tony Rooke, who represented himself today at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in West Sussex, said he did not want to give money to an organisation ‘funding the practice of terrorism’.
Rooke, who admitted owning a TV and watching it without a licence, was found guilty of using an unlicensed set, given a six-month conditional discharge and told to pay £200 costs.
He was visited in May 2012 by an inspector after withdrawing his licence in March, but said he was withholding the funds under the Terrorism Act.
Section 15 of the 2000 Act states that it is an offence for someone to invite another to provide money, intending that it should be used, or having reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used, for terrorism purposes.
‘I am withholding all funds from the BBC, the Government and subsidiaries under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act,’ he told the inspector.
He added that he had already lodged a complaint with the BBC.
Rooke told the court: ‘I believe the BBC, who are directly funded by the licence fee, are furthering the purposes of terrorism and I have incontrovertible evidence to this effect. I do not use this word lightly given where I am.’
He was not allowed to show his pre-prepared video evidence in court because the District Judge said it was not relevant to the trial.
But the major point Rooke said he relied upon was that the BBC allegedly reported that World Trade Centre 7 had fallen 20 minutes before it did.
He also made reference to a theory about the way the skyscraper was said to have fallen in on itself, which some people believe showed signs of a controlled demolition.
Mr Rooke said: ‘The BBC reported it 20 minutes before it fell. They knew about it beforehand. Last time I was here I asked you (the judge): “Were you aware of World Trade Centre 7”?
‘You said you had heard of it. Ten years later you should have more than heard of it. It’s the BBC’s job to inform the public. Especially of miracles of science and when laws of physics become suspended.
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‘They have made programmes making fools of and ridiculing those of us who believe in the laws of gravity. American reports have shown that the fall was nothing but a controlled demolition.
‘I am not looking at who demolished it – that is impossible – but the BBC actively tried to hide this from the public.’
Not paying a TV licence under Section 363 of the Communications Act is a strict liability offence, said Garth Hanniford, prosecuting. He asked Rooke why he continued to watch the BBC with no licence.
Rooke said: ‘Ignorance is not an excuse – I need to know what these people are saying.’ He later added: ‘You are asking me to commit a crime if you are asking me to pay.’
Around 100 supporters arrived at Horsham Magistrates’ Court today to watch the court case – although only 40 could pack into the public gallery.
The court called in back-up from Sussex Police with two officers standing at the door to the court and several more outside. There was cheering and applause as Rooke put his case forward in court.
District Judge Stephen Nicholls said: ‘This is not a public inquiry into 9/11. This is an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act.’
He said he had difficulty sitting in the magistrates’ court as he ‘did not believe he had the power to rule under the terrorism act’.
‘I believe the BBC, who are directly funded by the licence fee, are furthering the purposes of terrorism and I have incontrovertible evidence to this effect. I do not use this word lightly given where I am’
He said: ‘Even if I accept the evidence you say, this court has no power to create a defence in the manner which you put forward.’
Sentencing, Judge Nicholls said: ‘Mr Rooke puts the basis of his defence under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act, effectively asking the court to find the BBC is a terrorist organisation and that if he continues to pay them he himself is committing a criminal offence.
‘I have explained to Mr Rooke even if I were to accept his evidence I would be unable to find a defence.’
Speaking outside court, Rooke said he was ‘pleased’ with the outcome, ‘all things considered’.
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