Three pubs face total fines of £327k for illegal Sky screening

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Big price to pay: directors and licensees of three Midlands-based pubs sentenced over illegal Sky Sports screenings
Big price to pay: directors and licensees of three Midlands-based pubs sentenced over illegal Sky Sports screenings

Related tags: Sky, Sky sports

Three Midlands-based pubs have been fined a combined total of £327,405 for showing Sky Sports illegally in their premises.

Judges ordered the licensees and company directors of pubs in Stafford, Birmingham and Wolverhampton to pay the fines after a successful prosecution by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Offenders were convicted of 64 charges in a combined case brought before the Birmingham Magistrates' Court.

Jonathan Hunt, a director of pubco Monk Moor Pubs and designated premises supervisor (DPS) of the Prince of Wales, Stafford; and the Pheasant Inn, Wolverhampton; was found guilty of 19 offences in his absence and his personal alcohol licence was revoked. He was ordered to pay a fine of £152,000, plus £35,000 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

Mark Jones, a director of Monk Moor Pubs, was found guilty of 19 offences in his absence. He was fined £114,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

Robert Stevens, also a director of Monk Moor Pubs, was convicted in his absence of 19 offences. He was later fined £950 and ordered to pay a £95 victim surcharge.

Carol Keenan, DPS of the Beaufort Arms, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to seven offences of a television transmission of a Sky televised football match with the intent to avoid payment. She was handed a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge.

Warnings ignored

Stephen Gerrard, FACT prosecuting manager said those involved had refused to acknowledge earlier warnings.

He said: “The licensees and company involved in this case have consistently refused to engage with us and ignored numerous warnings and offers of advice sent to them.

“This clearly demonstrates their conscious decision to offend, over a significant period of time.

“We were left with no option but to prosecute these individuals and we will continue to prosecute publicans who are fraudulently showing Sky programmes in their premises.”

George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky said the company was committed to ensuring licensees who screen their content illegally are punished.

High risk of being caught

Lawson continued: “We take illegal use of our programming very seriously and we remain committed to protecting our legitimate Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity.

“Those licensees who choose to televise content illegally should be aware that they are at high risk of being caught and face substantial penalties and a criminal conviction. The only legal way to Sky Sports programming in licensed premises in the UK is via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky.”

Matt Bosworth, partner at Russell-Cooke, the legal firm acting for FACT said: “This case was the largest of its type ever undertaken by FACT. It was the culmination of three years of intensive investigation and attempts by us to persuade the defendants to stop this activity. 

"The case demonstrates that private prosecutions can be used by organisations to protect their intellectual property rights and their property under the jurisdiction of the criminal courts. I anticipate seeing many more of them in the future.”

Related topics: Legislation

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