Friday, October 30, 2009

Letter Delay Man Wins Speeding Case

Letter delay man wins speed case
BBC 29th October 2009

Mr Gidden was caught going at 85mph on the M180 motorway
A man charged with speeding has had his conviction quashed because a postal strike led to his notification letter being delivered too late.

Peter Gidden, 48, of Dodworth, South Yorkshire, received his letter two days late after a postal strike in 2007.
The law states that police must send notice of intention to prosecute within 14 days of an alleged offence.
On Thursday the High Court ruled that the conviction was not legal because the time limit had not been met.

Mr Gidden was caught on a speed camera doing 85mph (137km/h) on the M180 in Lincolnshire in October 2007.
But a backlog of mail caused by a postal strike at the time held up the letter sent by police.
'Matter of principle'
He received it after 16 days had passed.

Following his decision, Lord Justice Elias said the case was relevant to the current postal strikes and said the law may have to be revised to avoid similar issues in the future.

He said: "The authorities must adopt other means of warning, if they are to avoid the risk of late delivery.
"Alternatively, the remedy lies in the hands of Parliament by amending...the 1988 [Road Traffic Offenders] Act."

Mr Gidden had previously appealed against the conviction at Grimsby Crown Court and Scunthorpe Magistrates' Court.
The High Court quashed his conviction and set aside fines and legal costs totalling £680. They also wiped three penalty points from his licence.
His legal fees of £8,000 will be paid for from public funds.

"In a way this is a matter of principle", Mr Gidden said.
"Law enforcers have to work within the law to gain the respect of the general public."

Source: Press Association 29th October 18.05


A motorist had a speeding conviction quashed by the High Court today (29/10/09) - because a 2007 postal strike led to the late delivery of a crucial prosecution document. Motoring laws might now have to be amended to prevent other drivers attempting to take advantage of similar late deliveries during the current or future mail strikes.
A statutory notice was sent warning Peter Gidden, 48, who runs his own specialist Toyota sports car workshop, that he had been caught by a speed camera and the police intended to prosecute, but it arrived two days late. The law states that such notices must be delivered within 14 days.
Gidden was jubilant after the judges allowed his appeal against Grimsby Crown Court's decision in February to uphold a speeding conviction imposed by Scunthorpe magistrates last October.
He faced prosecution under the 1988 Road Traffic Offenders Act. The judges quashed his conviction and set aside fines and legal costs totalling #680. They also wiped out the three penalty points endorsed on his licence and awarded him legal costs out of public funds.
Gidden said he had been driving on the M180 in Lincolnshire at 8.10am on October 6 2007 when a speed camera recorded him as exceeding the speed limit, clocking him at 85mph in the inside lane.
He said he had unsuccessfully fought his case in person before the magistrates and the Crown Court.
He then employed a legal team led by barrister Archie Maddan to fight his case in the High Court at a cost of some £8,000.
Gidden said: "In a way this is a matter of principle. Law enforcers have to work within the law to gain the respect of the general public.
"In many ways I think they are losing the respect of the middle-class general public which they have always needed, and had, in this country."
In his ruling, Lord Justice Elias said Gidden's appeal "must succeed", and Mr Justice Openshaw agreed.
Lord Justice Elias said: "The notice of intended prosecution was not sent in time and could not be regarded as having been properly served. "It follows that the conviction must be set aside."
He added: "I appreciate that this construction of the legislation may create problems for the police and prosecuting authorities, particularly when the postal service is on strike with the inevitable delays in delivery.
"The authorities must then adopt other means of warning, if they are to avoid the risk of late delivery.
"Alternatively, the remedy lies in the hands of Parliament by amending... the 1988 Act. "It is not, however, for the courts to overcome the resulting inconvenience by distorting the clear language which Parliament has adopted." The judge said alternatives included recorded delivery services or registered post, which were governed by different rules.
The one sent to Mr Gidden, of High Street, Dodworth, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, took 16 days because of the backlog of undelivered mail built up after the strike in 2007.
Lord Justice Elias, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw, ruled today the whole prosecution process was defective because the time limit had not been met, and Mr Gidden's conviction must be quashed.
He rejected arguments supported by lower courts that so long as prosecution warning notices were posted within 14 days - so that in ordinary circumstances they would arrive in time - they were deemed to have been properly served. Lord Justice Elias said: "This case raises an issue of some topicality given the current postal strike and is of no mere small interest."
He warned the police and prosecuting authorities not to use the first class post and said they must adopt other means of delivering "statutory notices of intended prosecution" (NIPs) if they were to avoid the risk of late delivery.
John Josephs, solicitor for Mr Gidden, said later: "One can only speculate about the impact of today's judgment.
"The police are aware of this situation. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has been advising their members not to use first class post for NIPs." Mr Josephs said today's case was unusual in that it had been conceded at the Crown Court that Mr Gidden's warning notice had arrived late because of industrial action.
He predicted that, in other cases, where there had been no such concession, it might still prove difficult for defendants to convince the courts notices had genuinely arrived out of time.
Mr Josephs said: "This judgment is not a cheat's charter.
"It means that if a notice is served late because of a postal strike, or for some other reason, it will still be up to the defendant to prove that before the court.
"This is not a floodgates case, but postal strikes may strengthen a defendant's claim not to have been properly served with a notice."
The court heard that first class post deliveries for NIPs was first allowed under an amendment introduced by the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Prior to that notices were always served via registered post or recorded delivery, where there was a record to show they had actually been sent. Registered or recorded items are deemed to be served if sent to a defendant's last known address, even if they are returned as undelivered or not received for any other reason.
Lord Justice Elias suggested the same deeming provisions had not been extended to the first class post because of an "oversight".
But he said he could not rule out that it may have been deliberate Government policy, and it was for Parliament to make any changes that might now be necessary.

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