A private prosecution team led by Matt Bosworth, head of regulation at Russell-Cooke, has completed a successful prosecution on behalf of FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) and its member Sky UK. The judgement of 18th July 2018 saw licensees and company directors responsible for the running of a group of public houses in the Midlands convicted of 64 offences. They were ordered to pay a total of £327,405 in fines and costs for showing Sky Sports illegally on their premises.
In the case brought before Birmingham Magistrates Court in March 2018 Jonathan Hunt was convicted of 19 offences, Mark Jones convicted of 19 offences, Robert Stevens convicted of 19 offences and Carol Keenan pleaded guilty to seven offences. All convictions were for dishonestly receiving Sky televised Premier League football matches in licensed premises under their control with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge, contrary to Section 297(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.
In addition to receiving the convictions for dishonesty and fines and costs, Mr Hunt’s personal alcohol licence was revoked.
In her sentencing comments at Birmingham Magistrates Court, District Judge Dickins said it was her view that Mr Hunt had acted in a manipulative and coercive way in forcing others to assist in the carrying out of the criminal acts to commercial and economic advantage. These were criminal acts not just against Sky UK but also against Sky’s legitimate paying customers.
Matt Bosworth 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."
The rest of the team consisted of Peter Cadman, Semin Taner, Thomas Campbell and Ashmeet Wadwa along with instructed counsel throughout the matter, Miles Bennett of 5 Paper Buildings.