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Ex-landlord’s relief at TV match victory
7:00am Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
A FORMER pub landlord and his wife are in the clear after being dragged through the courts for three years over the screening of a Premier League football match.
John Doyle and his wife Mandy were accused of illegally broadcasting the game between Liverpool and Tottenham in January 2010 at the Queensfield in Stratton.
Proceedings against the couple were delayed while a test case brought by Media Protection Services, which was instructed by the Premier League, was heard in the High Court.
But MPS went bust two weeks ago, leading to the collapse of the private prosecution against John Royal at Newcastle Crown Court. Up to 20 publicans across the country are now in the clear.
Mr Doyle said: “It’s been hell for three years.
“Having a court case hanging over your head for any amount of time is stressful but we’ve been to court time and again with no end in sight.
“It’s the not knowing that’s been the worst part. It’s taken its toll on my wife’s health and I haven’t been able to go for another pub because if I’d have been guilty I wouldn’t have been given a licence.
“It’s been a miserable time. Someone should be held to account for this.”
The couple, from Penhill, had denied the charge, saying they bought equipment from what they thought was a reputable British company and had no idea the screening was illegal.
Mr Doyle has spoken to his solicitor about claiming compensation, but with MPS going into liquidation it is unclear if a case could be brought against the Premier League.
He said: “I’m going to claim compensation as we’ve been hit by all the worry and all the stress by a big company which paid for a barrister to come to Swindon and pursue the case against us.
“At the end of the day they didn’t have a leg to stand on and we wonder if the company went bust because they knew they were going to lose the High Court case.
“We’ve had our names tarnished and for what? My wife wasn’t even the licence holder, I was.”
Mr Doyle, 49, left the Queensfield two years ago and is working as a part-time taxi driver.
He said: “I was fighting a battle from the minute I went in the pub to the minute I left. There’s been two landlords since we left and now it’s boarded up. “I took it from an empty pub and did my best but I was up against business rates and the Premier League. It just breaks you.”
A spokesman for the Premier League said: “Media Protection Services has gone into liquidation and we understand it is therefore unable to continue cases which it commenced that are currently in the legal system. “This has no bearing on the fact that Sky Sports and BT Sport are the only legitimate broadcasters of live Premier League football in the UK.
“Our work in this area has increased significantly this season and we are currently taking legal action against a number of publicans who have used unauthorised foreign systems to show Premier League matches in UK pubs.”
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