A SINGLE mum’s campaign to end “outdated TV licensing laws” has been backed by 250,000 people after she was almost prosecuted for not paying up.

Josiane Bazatoha, from Basildon, eventually had charges dropped after she was threatened with a prosecution – but the “deeply stressful experience” had a huge impact on her.

She is now campaigning for TV licensing prosecutions to be stopped during the cost of living crisis, and has received the backing of South Basildon and East Thurrock MP Stephen Metcalfe.

Ms Bazatoha’s petition states: “When I got the letter telling me I was being prosecuted, I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t even being prosecuted for avoiding them – I had tried to resolve the problem with them directly, calling and emailing to sort out the payment issues.

“I was a single parent, struggling financially and it was clearly not in the public interest to prosecute me. I worried that a criminal conviction might cause all sorts of problems in my life.

“It caused me sleepless nights and even impacted my ability to parent as I was so worried and distracted.

“I managed to find free legal help from the charity and law practice APPEAL. The charges were dropped. But not everyone is so lucky.”

At Parliament last week, Stephen Metcalfe asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: “18 per cent of female criminal prosecutions in 2021 were for the non-possession of a television licence which seems completely unreasonable.

“Will my Right Honourable Friend, therefore, agree to meet with me and my constituent, Josiane, to discuss this further and receive the 250,000-signature petition asking for decriminalisation?”

The minister for media, John Whittingdale, agreed to meet and receive the petition.

Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, answered: “I thank the Honourable Member – I am concerned that the criminal sanctions for TV licence evasion is increasingly disproportionate and unfair in a modern service-broadcasting system. Our review of the BBC funding model will consider whether a mandatory licence fee with criminal penalties is still appropriate and, the BBC has recently published the findings of its gender disparity review which sets out a ten-point plan of action.”