The BBC licence fee could be abolished and replaced with a government grant with viewers paying a voluntary subscription for entertainment and sport by 2027, new reports have detailed today.
The Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to confirm that the cost of an annual TV licence – which is required to watch live television and access iPlayer services – will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly for the following three years.
Dorries has recently indicated that she wants to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.
She wrote on Twitter: “This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”
The move would force the BBC to negotiate a new funding model, with potential options including a voluntary subscription service, part-privatisation, or direct government funding.
The Mail on Sunday reported that an ally of Dorries said: “There will be a lot of anguished noises about how it will hit popular programmes, but they can learn to cut waste like any other business.
“This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever. Work will start next week on a mid-term review to replace the charter with a new funding formula.”
“It’s over for the BBC as they know it.”
However, Dorries’ stance has been met with overwhelming backlash, with a number of TV and radio stars having since rallied behind the BBC’s TV licence and slamming her decision as an ‘attack on a British institution’.
Former footballer Gary Lineker led the criticism, with him hailing the BBC as ‘the most treasured of National treasures’.
Lineker tweeted to his 8 million followers: “It should be the most treasured of National treasures. Something true patriots of our country should be proud of. It should never be a voice for those in government whoever is in power.”
He pointed out in a separate Tweet: “Yes the BBC brings you the best in news, in sport, in drama, in music, in children’s, in science, in history, in entertainment, in current affairs and Sir David bloody Attenborough….but apart from that was has the BBC ever done for us?”
Broadcaster Victoria Coren Mitchell also voiced her support for the licence, noting that the press and politicians can’t see the importance of the channel because they’re ‘trapped inside their own relationship with the news.’
Podcaster Greg Jenner added: “The BBC is 100 years old this year. It has constantly changed throughout that time, and it’s still greatly valued by the British people – such a pity the Culture Secretary would rather fight the Culture Wars.”
Kurt Zouma charged with three offences over cat kicking videos
The footballer was filmed abusing his cat at the start of this year
Kurt Zouma has been charged with three offences under the Animal Welfare Act after he was filmed kicking his pet cat.
The charges are in relation to the now-infamous videos that showed the West Ham footballer abusing the cat.
Kurt is accused of two counts of causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ to the cat by kicking it in the abdomen and slapping it in the head.
He is also charged with failing to protect the cat from ‘pain suffering, injury or disease’.
His brother and fellow footballer Yoan has also been charged for his involvement in the incident, which he filmed and posted onto Snapchat.
Yoan is accused of two counts of ‘aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring’ Kurt to commit the offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat.
The brothers are set to appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (May 24th) for a preliminary hearing following a joint investigation from the RSPCA and Essex Police.
After the video started circulating on social media in February, the RSPCA removed two cats from Kurt’s home and began liaising with Essex Police about the incident.
In a statement at the time of the video’s circulation, the RSPCA said: “The two cats are now in RSPCA care. Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats.
“They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vets and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues.
“We’re grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are leading the investigation.
“We continue to investigate so we cannot comment further at this time.”
Sue Gray report set to be ‘published in full next week’ as partygate investigation ends
The police announced the end of their investigation today
The long-awaited Sue Gray report into Downing Street misconduct during the Covid pandemic is due to be published in full next week as the police’s investigation concludes.
The report – which investigated a series of alleged breaches of Covid lockdown in 10 Downing Street and Whitehall – was completed in January, but the publication of the full document was delayed at the request of the Metropolitan Police as they completed their own investigation.
But today, the police announced their inquiry into Downing Street lockdown breaches has come to an end, meaning Gray’s report could be published as soon as next week.
A source close to Gray and her team said she now intends to publish her report ‘as soon as possible’, adding that it could come as early as next week, according to The Independent.
The shortened version of Gray’s report noted that there was a ‘serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government, but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time’.
Gray also stated that because the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is ‘difficult to justify’.
Stand-out points from the report include:
- There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times.
- The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time.
- The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street.
- The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability.
- Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so.
The police’s investigation resulted in a total of 126 fines, known as Fixed Penalty Notices, being issued for events across eight different dates.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were both fined for their involvement in parties and events held during the lockdowns.
Twenty-eight people have been issued with more than one fine, the force added.
Full judicial review into inquest of Yousef Makki granted by judge
A judge has granted permission for a full judicial review into the inquest of Burnage schoolboy Yousef Makki.
The family of the seventeen-year-old – who died after being stabbed by friend Joshua Molnar in Hale Barnes in 2019 – called for a review to overturn the coroner’s verdict on his death, which failed to conclude whether he had died either unlawfully or accidentally.
An application was made to High Court by a QC acting for Yousef’s father, Ghaleb Makki and, today (May 18th), at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, the review was granted.
Yousef’s father said of the decision: “There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a small step in the right direction.”
Matthew Stanbury, representing the Makki family, claimed the coroner’s ruling was ‘inevitable’ due to the failure to analyse and ‘grapple’ with central issues in the case.
Mr. Stanbury said: “Today is a significant step forward and we are optimistic about getting a fresh inquest.”
Yousef died after being fatally stabbed in the heart by Joshua following an argument on the evening of March 2nd 2019.
The former public school student had met Joshua at Manchester Grammar School, where he had won a bursary to attend.
Joshua, who comes from a wealthy family in Hale, later admitted to stabbing Makki with a knife he had bought online ‘with ease’ during a school break time.
However, a jury acquitted Joshua, now twenty, of murder and manslaughter later that year, with him instead been handed a sixteen-month detention and training order after admitting possessing the knife which inflicted the fatal injury and lying to police at the scene.
He says he acted in self-defence, alleging Yousef pushed and punched him and called him ‘p*ssy’.
Following November’s inquest, Senior South Manchester Coroner Alison Mutch recorded a narrative conclusion, saying: “Yousef died from complications of a stab wound to chest.
“The precise circumstances in which he was wounded cannot, on balance of probabilities, be ascertained.”
The family’s formal application argued the coroner’s ruling was ‘unreasonable’ as it ‘failed to address or make findings on central matters in the case such as to enable her to reach a conclusion – on the balance of probabilities – as to the lawfulness of the killing’.