South East Wales

MEP Jill Evans fined for TV licence protest over S4C

A Plaid Cymru MEP must pay £575 after refusing to pay her TV licence fee in protest over changes to the way S4C is run and cuts to its funding.

Jill Evans' action was part of a campaign by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society.

The society ended its campaign at the weekend after the BBC and S4C reached an agreement over the Welsh language channel's future until 2017.

She pleaded guilty before Pontypridd magistrates and will now pay the fee.

There were shouts in Welsh of "disgrace" from her supporters in the public gallery as she was fined £500 with £60 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

During the hearing, which was held in Welsh, the Plaid Cymru president explained that her refusal to pay was due to concerns over the future of S4C.

Before being fined, Evans asked magistrates to take into account the political nature of her protest.

She told the court: "I didn't pay for a television licence as a protest against the decision of the government in London to endanger the future of S4C."

She said that S4C had "played a key role in the campaign to save the Welsh language".

'Make a stand'

"The British government did not even consult the Welsh government or the Welsh people and it was undemocratic," she added.

She said she felt a "personal duty" to make a stand over the licence fee along with many others.

"There has now been an agreement between the S4C and the BBC although it is not entirely satisfactory," she said.

"The campaign has been a success and S4C has accepted the agreement so I now intend to pay for my television licence again."

Guilty plea

Prosecutor Tony Elliott had said Evans, of Llwynypia, Rhondda, was interviewed under caution on 4 June this year after being found using a colour television the previous day.

Magistrates took into account her guilty plea and, based on her weekly income of around £1,500, she was ordered to pay a total of £575.

Some of her 30 supporters in the public gallery then shouted "disgrace" and "what about standing up for democracy?".

Afterwards, Bethan Williams, chair of the Welsh Language Society, thanked Evans for her support over the S4C campaign.

She added: "As our campaign continues, we will be calling for the devolution of broadcasting to Wales - and we will be meeting politicians next Tuesday to lobby them."

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