PUB landlords in Chester face a trial for dishonestly receiving Premier League football programmes to avoid payment in a legal test case with ramifications for the licensed trade.
David and Althea Brooker, of The Flookersbrook in Hoole – formerly of the Chester Bells – and Judith Spencer of the Egerton Arms in Brook Street are being prosecuted by Media Protection Services (MPS), on behalf of the Premier League.
The licensees – among a larger group of 26 from across the country – argue they legitimately bought non-EU decoder cards but could face a criminal conviction and £5,000 fines per offence.
All cases relate to the use of Albanian satellite decoder cards which can be purchased on the internet for between £250-£600 per year compared with BSkyB charges of £500-£600 per month.
Lawyers for the publicans had argued at Chester magistrates that under European law there was no case to answer because the situation was discriminatory on grounds of nationality and the licensees were free to import the cards from Albania due to a trade treaty with the EU.
Dismissing these arguments, District Judge Nick Sanders said in his written judgment: “I do not consider that EU law is engaged in any of these cases before the court today and that prosecutions can proceed against each defendant under section 297 (1) Copyright Designs and Patent Act. All matters should therefore proceed forthwith to trial.”
Paul Dixon, defending, confirmed all his clients would be pleading not guilty.
The trial of the Brookers and Spencer will take place at city magistrates on January 13.