Saturday, February 26, 2011

Justice must be seen to be done ... and if it isn't the people will become restless

We have just witnessed an outrageous case of injustice in Exeter Crown Court when pensioner Peter Harry, a victim of wilful misconduct saw the accused, Geoff Unwin, an Exeter Parking Services Team Leader given an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to the charge which stemmed from the forging of evidence documents.

This sends a message out to the British motoring public that whilst you will be punished with fines and penalties for the most minor and trivial of contraventions (such as parking slightly outside a bay or being a minute late back to a meter) and pursued relentlessly, council officers who forge documents to allow their council to fill its parking fines coffers will be treated so leniently that it brings the whole justice system into disrepute.

Judge Graham Cottle however has been in the press before ...Reported in the Times on October 18, 2006 the headline was ...

Former judge jailed for telling undercover reporter to lie

Judge Graham Cottle told Lancaster that the criminal justice system in this country was held up as a model of fairness and good practice, and in order to maintain that reputation it was of paramount importance that professionals involved in the system behaved at all times with honesty and integrity.
More here

The decision at Exeter Crown Court still has those who witnessed the Judge's words stunned with disbelief.

May I humbly suggest that this injustice perpetrated on the VICTIM Peter Harry, one which the CPS regard as a very serious matter indeed, is now just the beginning rather than the end of the matter?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Prepare for the maelstrom ... Council officer forged parking documents

I expect that Britain's motorists will be incensed at the decision of Judge Graham Cottle but expect a very bright media spotlight to be shone on the sordid affairs of parking officers in the South West.

As a reminder of what the CPS say ...

CPS Guidance: Misconduct in Public Office

Like perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office covers a wide range of conduct. It should always be remembered that it is a very serious, indictable only offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. A charge of misconduct in public office should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or deliberate failure to perform a duty which is likely to injure the public interest.

... and then read the words of Judge Cottle.

Then remember that Peter Harry is a VICTIM of wilful misconduct and the criminal actions of someone paid from the public purse. This massive injustice will incense Britain's motorists.

Official forged parking documents
Published on Fri Feb 25
20:10:09 2011
Press Association

A motorist has spoken of his disbelief after an Exeter City Council official escaped with a slap on the wrist after admitting forging documents in a parking dispute.

Geoffrey Urwin, 43, who worked at Exeter City Council as a parking support team leader, doctored a map that was presented to a traffic penalty tribunal after motorist Peter Harry appealed against a ticket he had been given.

Urwin, of Oxford Road, St James, Exeter, pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful misconduct at Exeter Crown Court on Friday and was given an absolute discharge by Judge Graham Cottle, the Recorder of Exeter.

Exeter Crown Court heard the charge related to an incident in June 2009, when Mr Harry, 67, who is part of a group campaigning against illegal issuing of parking tickets, discovered that some of the parking restrictions in Exeter city centre were incorrectly marked and decided to test them.

He found that the parking bays on Southernhay East were marked with a double white transverse line - meaning motorists who did not buy a ticket could not be penalised for parking there. When the retired cheese wholesaler, from Dawlish, Devon, received a penalty notice for not purchasing a ticket, he appealed against the fine.

The court heard that Mr Harry found that the ticket he had been issued with stated that he was parked in Southernhay West, when in fact he had left his car in the adjacent Southernhay East. He also discovered that a map the council had submitted to the tribunal had been doctored and the word 'East' removed - making it look like he was parked in 'Southernhay', the court heard.

After Mr Harry complained to the police, it was discovered that Urwin had realised that the pensioner was right and so the defendant altered parking plans to put the city council in the clear, the court heard.

Before Urwin entered his plea, Judge Cottle spoke of his disbelief that the case had ever reached the crown court in the first place. "The CPS lawyer spent hours on this case? I wonder whether that was money well spent," the judge said.

Speaking outside court, Mr Harry spoke of his disbelief at the comments of the judge. "I cannot understand justice sometimes," he said. "I am absolutely astounded. I am just struck for words. How the judge can give an absolute discharge for a criminal offence, which he never heard anything about, is beyond me."

A spokesman for Exeter City Council said: "Geoff Urwin no longer works for the city council. We have no further comment to make."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2011, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The death of parking enforcement in Devon? Is it time ...

How much more evidence is needed?

Perhaps the Court Case at Exeter Crown Court next Thursday will be the 'tipping point.'

As many council Parking Managers read this blog it is perhaps time that you reflected on your own indifference and intransigence if you too have been guilty of enforcing restrictions that you knew were unlawful. The mantra often chanted by the 'industry of 'it's only a parking ticket' will perhaps, in light of the MP's expenses scandal, be viewed in a different fashion. 'It was 'only a packet of biscuits' or 'only a few mortgage payments' for a mortgage that had been paid off didn't wash and those guilty of defrauding the public purse are now spending time at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

Now let's look at a Parking Manager who KNEW that there were no lawful parking restrictions, who KNEW that the Traffic Order was invalid AND YET STILL ALLOWED MOTORISTS TO BE DEPRIVED OF THEIR CASH TO ENHANCE THE COUNCIL'S COFFERS AND THE PARKING MANAGER'S STATUS.

Where is the difference. The public is entitled to expect honesty and integrity from those paid from the public purse.

There is a great deal of evidence in many council areas going back many years. There are many motorists and businesses who have suffered greatly. I doubt that many will have sympathy for any crocodile tears shed by those currently looking over their shoulder.

The press are looking for the new 'abuse of public trust' scandal. Perchance it might be greedy councils and their officers who thought that the motorist was easy prey.

Well done to those brave enough to stand up to be counted. Well done to those council officers who were not prepared to be tarred with the same brush as those with their arrogant contempt for the law.

Meanwhile, more news from the pointy bit at the other end of England!

This is Exeter
Wednesday, February 16, 2011,
Signs removed in parking dispute

SIGNS which warned of parking restrictions in Crediton's Market Square have been removed following claims that fines were collected illegally.

Campaigners claim Devon County Council did not have proper authorisation from central Government to enforce parking. County councillor Percy Prowse thinks fines of nearly £6,000 have been paid by motorists who parked in the restricted bays and did not buy a ticket.

The county council said at the beginning of this month it was not currently enforcing parking in the restricted bays, and last Monday some signs were removed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Councils want signing 'dumbed-down'

The current consultation being undertaken by the Department for Transport sees councils wishing to save money by dumbing down traffic signs.

The method on the right could save a lot of money!

You could even have the Traffic Penalty Tribunal chanting its mantra that 'no reasonable person could be misled!'

Apparently, there are a few adjudicators who still think that they can ignore statute law and the will of the courts ...

Monday, February 07, 2011

There are two ways to end clamping and towing ...

The first is by lobbying Government and proposinga change to the legislation.

The second is the method below ... We would strongly advise the former.

Show me the money ...

Traffic management ... absolute failure if there is this level of non-compliance.

Cash Cow value ... up there top of the league

Council makes fortune from street where drivers are fined £2,500 a day
London Evening Standard
Tom Harper
7 Feb 2011

It is an unremarkable residential street in south London flanked by housing estates and dotted with takeaways.

But today Clapham Park Road can be named as the biggest "cash cow" for parking tickets in the capital.

In a stretch of road measuring less than 500 yards, wardens raked in almost £1 million in parking and traffic fines last year - £300,000 more than its nearest London rival.

Coffers at Lambeth council were swelled by £2,500 a day through the activities of civil enforcement officers and two CCTV cameras patrolling bus lanes in Clapham Park Road.

The disclosure threatens to reignite the debate over town halls' use of parking fines as a stealth tax - in breach of Whitehall guidelines - to generate cash at a time of budget cuts.

AA president Edmund King said: "That is an incredible amount of money for one street. Something is wrong with the system - the intention of the council should be to keep traffic moving, not make money. At best it's very poor traffic management and at worst, frankly, it's profiteering."

Last year, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles warned boroughs they must cope with 25 per cent budget cuts without using civil parking enforcement as a way of raising revenue. But an investigation by the Evening Standard found 20 town halls in London generated a massive £146 million in tickets and fines last year.

Information obtained using the Freedom of Information Act shows that top of the list was Kensington and Chelsea, which earned £36 million through penalty charge notices for parking and traffic violations.

But revenue from those tickets - which cost drivers up to £120, the highest in Britain - was spread across many streets. The top earner was King's Road, at £203,123.
This figure is dwarfed by Clapham Park Road, which amassed £914,040 through 16,800 tickets last year.

Residents and businesses - the street has a handful of shops and two bars - said motorists were often caught out by cameras monitoring a bus lane, which has had its layout changed several times in recent years. Other drivers say they are targeted by over-eager parking inspectors who strike within seconds of them leaving their cars.

A Lambeth spokesman said: "This is an extremely busy area used by thousands of vehicles a day and a minority of motorists add to congestion by driving in the bus lane."

Next highest for revenue was Green Lanes, a four-mile road stretching from Hackney through Haringey into Enfield. Wardens in the Haringey section gathered £606,903 from 12,689 tickets.
The borough said it was a "long and major route" and needed to be kept free of vehicles. The Broadway, a busy shopping street in Ealing, came third, generating £534,041 with 8,385 tickets.
Last week, Barnet councillor Brian Coleman triggered uproar when it emerged he boasted town hall parking policy was to "never knowingly undercharge".
Campaigners advise motorists they should appeal against all tickets as many are issued wrongly. In London last year 68 per cent of drivers who took their case to the independent adjudicator won.
Last month, transport minister Norman Baker ordered a review of signs and markings amid concerns that they feature impenetrable lists of timings, exemptions and instructions.

Some tickets have been put down to overzealous wardens. In November, a driver got a £120 fine after a yellow line was painted under his car. Daniel Jacob, 26, of Basildon, said: "It's not even straight, it's a wobbly scrawl.

Clapham Park Road (Lambeth) £914,040
Green Lanes (Haringey) £606,903
The Broadway/Herbert Rd (Ealing) £534,041
Kentish Town Road (Camden) £395,491
Mare Street (Hackney) £356,012
Chiswick High Road (Hounslow) £351,416
Elephant Road (Southwark) £327,472
Lea Bridge Road (Waltham Forest) £250,270
King's Road (Kensington & Chelsea) £203,123
Penge High Street (Bromley) £194,005
Baker Street (Westminster) £189,515
Uxbridge High Street (Hillingdon) £172,075
London Road (Croydon) £171,295
Hackney Road (Tower Hamlets) £145,612
Macfarlane Road (H'smith & Fulham) £135,319
Garratt Lane (Wandsworth) £118,436
Wellington Street (Greenwich) £75,726
Yew Grove (Barnet) £47,910
Market Place Car Park (Havering) £34,185
Grove Road (Sutton) £22,686

Highest earning street for traffic and parking fines in each borough. Other boroughs failed to respond or gave only partial information that was not comparable.

Parking 'Industry' now aware of the Court of Appeal ruling

No excuses for Parking Managers or adjudicators now. The High Court (Moss v KPMG) and the Court of Appeal has clearly spelled out the requirements for signs to comply with TSRGD 2002.

I am led to believe that some Adjudicators are being a bit naughty still citing the decision of Justice Keith when appellants raise signing matters as a defence. Some parking departments also need to check their rejection letters as this matter may come with a nasty sting in the tail ... especially if they are aware of the non-compliance.

A further word of warning ... 'substantial compliance' fell a long time ago and perhaps some adjudicators should read the Ouseley decision in Moss v KPMG before attempting to elevate themselves powers to which they are not entitled.

To the people who are determined to see that justice prevails and the rotten apples exposed ... keep the information coming.

Herron wins permission to appeal in Sunderland CPZ case
Parking Review

Neil HerronParking campaigner Neil Herron has been granted permission to appeal against a High Court ruling regarding Sunderland's controlled parking zone (CPZ).

At the hearing last year Justice Bean dismissed Herron’s contention that a parking adjudicator had “erred in law” in his decision regarding the validity of the CPZ (PR June 2009).

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The truth will out ...

Sunderland Council Officer Mr. Odunaiya's comments are interesting and follow the line of the 'old' regime. I will be sending him a copy of the transcript and Judgment as soon as they are released by the Court of Appeal to clarify his misconception. Perhaps Sunderland should have sent someone to the Court to take notes. Given the size of the new Consolidated Order published in the Sunderland Echo the Monday following the Court of Appeal decision perhaps they weren't expecting the result!

Let's hope the councillors who have been served papers throughout all of this debacle start paying a little closer attention. Try reading the documents posted here

Parking campaigner wins right to appeal over fines
Neil Herron
By Tim Booler
Sat Feb 05 2011

A PARKING campaigner has struck back in a long-running battle over alleged “unlawful” fines.

Neil Herron lost a test case in the High Court last year, when he claimed a controlled parking zone in Sunderland city centre was set up without the necessary approval, and penalty charges issued were therefore unenforceable.

But the city businessman has now won his bid to be able to appeal against that ruling, giving him another chance of forcing a judicial review into the issue.

The case in court revolves around enforcement at Frederick Street, in Sunniside.

As revealed in the Echo this month, it has been the busiest street in Sunderland for parking tickets over the last two years, with 1,015 issued, racking up £22,405 in fines.

The eventual outcome of the test case has been labelled as a “watershed moment” for motorists and car parking in the UK, by industry experts.

Lord Justice Rix granted Mr Herron’s application after a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London.

Afterwards, Mr Herron’s solicitor Franklin Price said: “The judge could see Neil’s arguments and thought they were sufficient to merit a hearing before the full Court of Appeal, and that it was also a matter of some public importance.”

Mr Herron said: “I feel vindicated now that permission has been granted, and it’s about time we had a full independent investigation into Sunderland Council’s parking enforcement regime.”

Mr Herron – who will be allowed enter new evidence when the case next appears in court – claimed little progress has been made since he had meetings with officers about concerns in 2005.

Ron Odunaiya, executive director for city services at Sunderland Council, said: “The High Court had previously confirmed that Sunderland’s Controlled Parking Zone was lawful, and that Mr Herron’s application for judicial review was ‘entirely based on technicality and utterly devoid of merit’.

“We have always believed Sunderland’s parking rules to be firm but fair.

“Controlled parking is about road safety, reducing congestion in the interests of all highways users, and supporting economic activity and viability across Sunderland.

“We are awaiting a date for the hearing of the appeal, at which the city council will be represented.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Herron v The Parking Adjudicator ... Order of the Court of Appeal

A watershed moment for Britain's motorists. I am sure that many residents and ratepayers of Sunderland will want to know how much this case has cost to date.

£1million spent by Sunderland in legal costs in equal pay case

The council will still not reveal how much it has spent fighting the parking ticket case. About time it was disclosed.

Sunderland Council facing £20m bill after pay fight
Jan 30 2011 by Linda Richards, Sunday Sun

MORE than 1,500 employees are celebrating after winning an equal pay battle.

Sunderland City Council now faces a £20m bill after its attempt to have an equal pay ruling overturned was rejected, leaving the employees in line for payouts of up to £16,000 each.

An employment tribunal in Newcastle found in 2008 that the council had unlawfully discriminated against women employees by giving bonus payments to male workers employed as street sweepers, gardeners and refuse collectors.

The women, represented by Newcastle-based Stefan Cross Solicitors Limited, submitted claims against the council in respect of their jobs which included cleaners, cooks and care assistants.

An appeal by the council has now been rejected by the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Members agreed with the Newcastle tribunal, which said that because the bonus payments had nothing to do with productivity and were simply part of basic pay, paying them only to the male employees amounted to discrimination which could not be justified and was therefore unlawful.

Paul Doran, of Stefan Cross Solicitors Limited, who acted for the women, said: “This is yet another instance in which a local authority has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees defending the indefensible.

“It is incredible that more than 40 years since the implementation of the Equal Pay Act, women still have to revert to the courts and tribunals to allow them to receive equal pay for equal work.”

Sunderland’s appeal was heard along with a similar appeal by Bury Council.

In the Bury case, the EAT also ruled that “protection” arrangements that allowed the men to continue to receive higher pay after a new pay structure was introduced as also unlawful.

This will affect thousands of Sunderland workers because Sunderland introduced a similar, but far more generous scheme.

These arrangements are the subject of ongoing claims in the tribunals but this latest ruling will help the women in this case too.

There are already 1,500 women making such claims and the total bill to the council could exceed £20m.

The council is believed to have already spent more than £1m on legal bills fighting the cases.


Date Produced: 27 April 2009
Title: Administration of Justice
Offence: Perjury
Legislation: Perjury Act 1911 section 1
Mode of Trial: Indictable only
Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty: 7 years imprisonment

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors
See factors in main text under R v Archer

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines
R v Archer [2003] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 86 is the only guideline case.

Factors to be considered include:

  • the number of offences
  • whether planned or spontaneous
  • whether they were persisted in
  • whether the lies told or fabrications embarked upon had any actual impact on the proceedings in question;
  • whether the activities of the offender drew in others
  • the relationship between others drawn in and the offender
  • the whole course of conduct

No distinction should be drawn as to level of sentence according to whether the proceedings concerned were of a civil or criminal nature. Perjury may be comparatively trivial in criminal proceedings or very serious in civil proceedings. Whether the proceedings were civil or criminal is one of the factors to be considered.

See below for details of the case

Relevant Sentencing Case Law
R v Dunlop [2001] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 27. Tried twice for murder, jury failed to agree, discharged; written confession some years later. 6 years imprisonment concurrent on both counts upheld. The punishment had to be commensurate with the gravity of the original offence and yet not be seen as a punishment for that original offence.

R v Archer [2003] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 86.Appellant was the plaintiff in libel proceedings arising from newspaper allegations that he had had sexual intercourse with a prostitute. Convicted following trial on four counts and sentenced as follows:

Perverting the course of justice by procuring a false alibi - two years imprisonment.
Perverting the course of justice by concealing the existence of a diary, providing his secretary with a blank diary and details to fill in, and using it as genuine - four years imprisonment.
Perjury by falsely swearing an affidavit about documents in his possession - three years imprisonment.
Perjury that the diary was in existence and contained certain entries - four years imprisonment.
all sentences to run concurrently.

Sentences upheld on appeal.

R v Cunningham [2007] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 61. Kidnapped by a gang, detained overnight, subjected to violence and made to contact his partner and demand money. At their trial he gave false evidence to the effect that he had not been kidnapped and that he had instigated the violence. His defence of duress was rejected. Four years imprisonment upheld.

R v Adams [2004] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 15. Gave supporting evidence for a friend being tried for possession with intent. 18 months imprisonment upheld.

R v Healey (1990) 12 Cr.App.R.(S.) 297. Fine defaulter gave false evidence of means. 6 months imprisonment upheld.

R v Hall (1982) 4 Cr.App.R.(S.) 153. Gave false alibi evidence for another in a magistrates' court trial. 3 months imprisonment upheld.

Recent Decisions reported in CSP at B8-1.3 divided into: perjury in proceedings in magistrates' courts; perjury in civil proceedings; perjury in proceedings relating to serious crime.

Misconduct in Public Office

Misconduct In Public Office

This Guidance was last updated on 19th November 2007.
Crown Prosecution Service

Principles ... Who is a Public Officer?
Charging Practice
Useful References Principles

The elements of misconduct in public office are:

a) A public officer acting as such.

b) Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.

c) To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.

d) Without reasonable excuse or justification.

Who is a Public Officer?
In Attorney General's Reference No. 3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA 868, it was put to the Court of Appeal, but not argued as part of the substantive appeal, that public functions are now frequently carried out by employees in private employment, e.g. security at courts and transport of prisoners, and that it was unfair and illogical if those holding public office, such as police officers, were to be liable to conviction of an offence not applicable to private employees doing similar work.

Having not heard argument on the point, this may present problems of definition", which they declined to elaborate upon.

the Court stated as follows (Para 62):

"This potential unfairness adds weight, in our view, to the conclusion that the offence should be strictly confined but we do not propose to develop the point or to consider further the question of what, for present purposes, constitutes a public office."

So who holds a public office and as a result can be guilty of this offence? According to the Court of Appeal, which quoted from the earlier authorities, it requires that the defendant "must be a public officer acting as such .... There must be a breach of duty by the officer, [which is wilful and which is such that the conduct is] an affront to the standing of the public office held. The threshold is a high one requiring conduct so far below acceptable standards as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder" (Para 56). And later, quoting from the case of Bembridge [(1783) 3 Doug KB 32], "those who hold public office carry out their duties for the benefit of the public as a whole and, if they abuse their office, there is a breach of the public's trust" (Para 57).

Charging Practice
Like perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office covers a wide range of conduct. It should always be remembered that it is a very serious, indictable only offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. A charge of misconduct in public office should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or deliberate failure to perform a duty which is likely to injure the public interest.

Before deciding to proceed with a charge of misconduct in public office you should consider whether the acts complained of can properly be dealt with by any available statutory offence. If the seriousness of the offence can properly be reflected in any other charge, which would provide the court with adequate sentencing powers, and permit a proper presentation of the case as a whole, that other charge should be used unless:

the facts are so serious that the court's sentencing powers would be inadequate; or
it would ensure the better presentation of the case as a whole; for example, a co-defendant has been charged with an indictable offence and the statutory offence is summary only.
In R v Sookoo (2002) TLR 10/4/02 the Court cautioned against adding a count of perverting the course of justice when the conduct could properly be treated as an aggravating feature of a statutory offence. Similar reasoning should be applied to the charging of misconduct in public office. So for example, an assault by a police officer committed while on duty could also arguably be misconduct in public office, but the appropriate assault charge would provide the court with adequate sentencing powers and the ability to take into account the breach of trust by the officer as an aggravating factor [see R v. Dunn [2003] 2 Cr.App.R.(S)].

Useful References
Archbold 25-381

Attorney General's Reference No. 3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA 868

Bembridge [(1783) 3 Doug KB 32]

Dytham [1979] 1 QB 723

R v. W [2003] EWCA 1632

Witcher & Lang Guildford Crown Court March 2005

R v. Sunshes Nkesha Pike-Williams [2004] EWCA Crim 2400

Bowden [1996] 1 Cr.App.R. 104

Kent v Griffiths and others

Attorney General's Reference No.3 of 2003 [2004] EWCA Crim 868

R v Sookoo (2002) TLR 10/4/02

R v. Dunn [2003] 2 Cr.App.R.(S)

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