4 AUGUST 2001, Page 27

Dead men don't watch telly

From Mr John Woodward Sir: Your diarist Charles Moore (28 July) will find that sending a letter of explanation to the television licensing authorities will not stop them harassing him. I have not had a television for many years, but each year I used to receive a questionnaire which I duly filled in and returned; this was always ignored and a couple of weeks later a follow-up letter would arrive accusing me of failing to reply and threatening that I might receive a visit from 'our local inspector'. This gentleman turned up one day and asked, politely, if he might glance into my front room and verify that I had no television. I graciously consented and he went away happy. I then wrote to my MP complaining about all this and eventually got an assurance that I would receive no more questionnaires for two years, and thereafter would be dealt with by individual letter.

Anyone who lives without a television can recount similar stories. One friend of mine was told by the visiting inspector, 'They won't believe you have no set, so I'll put you down as deceased: then you won't be bothered again.' I asked my MP whether these people actually have a legal right of entry to one's home, but he avoided answering.

John Woodward

Pembroke, Dyfed