• Sweden edition
 

Ministers reported to police for unpaid TV licences

Published: 13 Oct 2006 00:10 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Oct 2006 00:10 GMT+02:00

Radiotjänst, the authority responsible for collecting television licence charges nationwide, has reported three ministers - Cecilia Stegö Chilò, Tobias Billström and Maria Borelius - to the police for not paying up.

"The cases are clear. I don't think you can get around the law," said Lars Lindberg, the managing director of Radiotjänst, to TT.

The reports will be submitted to the police on Friday in the ministers' home regions.

If the ministers are found guilty of dodging the fees, they could be fined.

Neither trade minister Maria Borelius nor culture minister Cecilia Stegö Chilò commented on Radiotjänst's decision.

Migration minister Tobias Billström said through his press secretary that he welcomed the action and that it was important for him to be able to put the matter right.

Cecilia Stegö Chilò has avoided paying the TV licence fee for 16 years, while Billström has 10 years of unpaid bills to account for.

Maria Borelius stated on Wednesday that she wanted to pay the fee retroactively from August 21st, when she and her family returned from living in London.

"We have two cases stretching back a long time, and one is a short time, but we want to have them all tried in court," said Lars Lindberg.

The decision to report the ministers to the police was taken after Radiotjänst consulted with its lawyers and several other experts.

"We have thought this through, looked at the law and it is very clear," said Lars Lindberg.

Radiotjänst was inundated by new declarations of TV ownership on Wednesday as a result of the publicity given to the ministers' slips.

"There were about a thousand new applications," said Lars Lindberg.

The question now is whether all of these new licence holders will be reported to the police too. According to the managing director of Radiotjänst, each case will be looked at individually.

Nevertheless, the cavalier attitude towards the charge displayed by the ministers - at least from Stegö Chilò and Billström - has angered many Swedes.

"Our customer service has had to handle a lot of calls from people who are upset by this. There is pressure on us to make sure they are punished," said Lindberg.

The departing leader of the Moderate Party's youth organisation, Johan Forsell, admitted to Swedish Radio on Thursday that he had not paid his TV licence fee either. Forsell is now taking up a post as chief of staff in Government Offices.

He has criticised the TV licence fee in his blog in the past, but he said it was careless of him not to pay. On Wednesday Forsell's partner submitted their application to Radiotjänst.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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