96 year-old war veteran just one of thousands being hounded by the Beeb

The BBC has been accused of “corporate thuggery” over its enforcement policy against over-75s struggling to pay the TV licence fee.

Those over the age of 75 were exempt from paying the telly tax until August 1, when an estimated 5 million pensioners had to start forking out for the £157.50 annual fee.

Lord Botham in his column for the Telegraph, recently pledged to help those facing intimidation by the BBC’s outsourced enforcers for non-payment, after hearing of dozens of cases where payment demands were “being sent to those suffering from dementia and the blind.”

An investigation by the Telegraph has now uncovered a multitude of similar case studies involving harassment and bullying of pensioners, some as old as 96.

Frank Ashleigh, 96, a veteran who survived capture by the Nazis during the Second World War, told the newspaper: “The BBC couldn’t care less what I did for my country. It just wants the money. It’s disgusting.”

Another victim was a 90 year-old widow, who suffered a stroke last year and is now living in a care home, was sent demand letters threatening prosecution and a £1,000 fine.

Rebbeca Ryan of Defund the BBC said: “It’s frankly outrageous that the BBC is sending pensioners extremely threatening and deceptive letters during a pandemic when they are understandably fearful.

“We have seen many of these letters via our supporters and they have one purpose and that is to frighten and confuse the recipient into paying the BBC money, whether they need to or not.”

Data recently obtained by the Mail showed the BBC had hounded a staggering 525,000 over-75s with threatening letters since the revocation of the licence fee exemption.

To add insult to injury, elderly folk – like the rest of the country – are being forced to pay for a licence fee many of whom cannot afford, to fund a broadcaster that only a third of Brits feel still represents their views, according to the latest polling.