Surrey Pub Company found guilty of illegally showing Sky Sports and ordered to pay out over £120,000

Merlin Inns Ltd and three of their employees plead guilty to a total of 13 offences

A Surrey pub company has been found guilty of illegally airing Sky Sports in three of its pubs and ordered to pay a record £120,600 in fines and costs following an investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Merlin Inns Ltd, based in Cranleigh in Surrey which boasts 14 public houses in the UK, pleaded guilty to 10 offences at Redhill Magistrates Court on Monday 4th April and were fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,500.

Three Designated Premises Supervisors (DPS) also pleaded guilty to a total of three offences and were each fined £600 and a victim surcharge of £60 bringing the total to a record £120,600.

The record fine and costs demonstrates the seriousness of this crime and how pub companies as well as individuals can face criminal records and stiff financial penalties for illegally screening matches.

These convictions were carried out by FACT on behalf of its members and forms a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs who invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premises reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky and will visit more than 700 pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this season.

Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager at the Federation Against Copyright Theft said “Regrettably for Merlin Inns Ltd they chose to ignore official notices alerting them to their illegal activity and refuse advice to legitimise their behaviour. Now the company is left with a substantial fine and three employees with criminal records.

“This result should serve as a strong warning to any pub company or employee thinking of bypassing the legitimate process to think twice about their actions. It is a criminal offence which the courts, FACT and Sky take incredibly seriously.

“Merlin Inns Ltd have also short changed law-abiding publicans in the area who legitimately pay commercial Sky subscriptions and are potentially losing customers to venues screening matches illegally.”

Alison Dolan, Deputy Managing Director at Sky Business, said: “The significant penalty applied in this case not only demonstrates how seriously the courts take the issue of fraudulently screening TV programmes, but also indicates just how significantly the suppliers of illegal equipment have been misleading publicans.

“Anyone choosing to believe these suppliers, or who has been offered any kind of guarantee from an illegal supplier should take note: these suppliers cannot stop pub companies as well as individuals from getting a criminal record, as this latest result now shows.

“The courts continue to send a clear message to publicans who consider fraudulently screening TV programmes in their venue – if you choose to televise content illegally then you run the very real risk of being caught and face substantial penalties and a criminal record.”

Any licensee affected by these issues can report suspected illegal broadcasting in confidence at http://business.sky.com/fighting-fraud

Related Content

News

IPTV service disrupted as part of illegal streaming crackdown

Worcester Trading Standards officers aided by West Mercia Police, in partnership with FACT and BT, executed a warrant on Tuesday 14 December as part of the continuing fight against illegal streaming. Officers visited two addresses in Worcester and seized a variety of equipment relating to the provision of internet protocol television (IPTV). At the main … Continued

News

Thirty months’ imprisonment for pirate software developer

In what is understood to be the first conviction of its type in the UK, a man who created and built a software package which enabled illegal access to BT Sport, SKY, Netflix and other subscription television content has been sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment. The software package or, ‘build’ he created … Continued

News

Two arrested as part of illegal IPTV crackdown

Leicestershire Police officers yesterday (Monday 29 November) executed a warrant as part of a crackdown on illegal streaming services. Police visited an address in Oadby and two people – a man aged 33 and a 48-year-old woman – were arrested on suspicion of infringing copyright by communicating work. A variety of equipment relating to the … Continued

News

Two-year sentence handed down to eBay fraudster

Westminster City Council’s Trading Standards team, working in partnership with FACT, have secured a prosecution against an eBay user who was selling internet protocol television (IPTV) devices online. IPTV devices enable users to access broadcasts, such as sporting events and films, which would otherwise require a paid subscription. Mr Fuaad Al-Saegh, (DOB: 01.03.1964) was handed … Continued