BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A CATHOLIC grandmother convicted for not paying her licence fee has said she is prepared to face jail rather than give money to the BBC.
Veronica Connolly, aged 54, was convicted last year of not having a television licence and took her case to the Court ofAppeal, claiming that the compulsory payment violated her freedom of conscience.
Mrs Connolly has expressed moral objections to paying her licence fee because she says the BBC transmits immoral messages through programmes such as Jerry Springer – The Opera, which offended Christians with its portrayal of Jesus.
Mrs Connolly has unsuccessfully taken her case to the Court ofAppeal and the High Court in London and is now expected to file her case with the European Court of Human Rights within the next month.
Mrs Connolly said: “Courts are not going to give Christians anything. But we still stand there and fight.” Elaborating on her opposition to the BBC’s output, she said: “We are seeing abortion and the morningafter pill thrown at you, euthanasia and how great it is. There’s no balance either. The immorality is presented as normal.” Mrs Connolly said that she only watches Sky and Catholic television channels. She would like to see a different system for funding the BBC, such as a BBC smart box, similar to the item that consumers must purchase to view many Sky channels or the introduction of advertisements to fund the broadcasting corporation.
The legal argument behind Mrs Connolly’s case is based upon Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects freedom of religion and conscience.
Her supporters have drawn a comparison with the ECHR ruling in 1990 known as Darby v Sweden. In that case, the court ruled that the compulsory payment of the Swedish church tax violated the conscience of the atheist in question because he was being forced to fund a body that he did not support.