View Full Version : Petrolheads Disappointed by Judgement

16th Feb 2004, 00:40
From the Telegraph :HAYES v DPP
(Filed: 12/02/2003)

Divisional Court
Buxton LJ, Curtis J
February 4, 2004

Criminal procedure - Road traffic - Human rights - Identity of driver -
Burden of proof - Privilege against self-incrimination not absolute


H appealed by way of case stated against the decision of the Crown Court on 27 November 2002 to refuse his appeal against his conviction for failing to identify the driver of a speeding vehicle registered in his name contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 s 172. H raised a defence under s 172(4) of the
Act on the basis that neither he nor his wife could remember which of them was driving at the relevant time. The court rejected his evidence without giving reasons for so doing. On this appeal H argued that: (i) the Crown Court had erred in placing the burden of proof on him in relation to a defence under s 172(4) of the Act; (ii) the court should have but had failed
to give reasons for not believing his evidence; and (iii) the requirement under s.172 of the Act to provide details of the identity of a driver was incompatible with Art 6 of the Human Rights Convention as it was contrary to the privilege against self-incrimination.


(i) Whether the court erred in placing the burden of proof on H.

(ii) Whether the court was required to give reasons for not believing H's evidence.

(iii) Whether s 172 of the Act was incompatible with the privilege against self-incrimination under Art 6 of the Human Rights Convention.

HELD (dismissing the appeal)

(i) Insofar as it had considered the matter at all, the court had not erred in placing the burden of proof on H. H's argument was misconceived. The Act made clear that a defendant "must show" that he did not know or could not with reasonable diligence ascertain the identity of a driver. In any event, the issue of burden of proof had not in fact arisen as the court had simply
disbelieved H's evidence.

(ii) The court was not required to give reasons for not believing H's evidence. The court had heard H and had not believed him. It did not have to set out that which was apparent and/or obvious. Its decision could not be challenged.

(iii) Section 172 of the Act was not incompatible with the privilege against self-incrimination under Art 6 of the Human Rights convention. The issue had been considered in Brown v Stott (2003) 1 AC 681 by the Privy Council, which held that the privilege against self-incrimination was not absolute and that
s 172 of the Act was part of road traffic legislation that was a
proportionate response to the serious social problem of road safety. Whilst the decisions of the Privy Council did not stand in the same hierarchy as those of the House of Lords or the Court of Appeal, it would have to be a truly exceptional case for the Divisional Court to depart from a decision of the Privy Council in a Convention matter. Brown had been heard by the Privy Council not because it had come from an exotic jurisdiction but because that was the appropriate forum for devolution issues in the United Kingdom.
Moreover, the judges of the Privy Council were the same as those of the House of Lords. In any event, if H had wished to raise the issue of incompatibility, he should have sought a declaration to that effect and in all those circumstances his appeal could not succeed.

16th Feb 2004, 04:04
This same situation happened to me a couple of years back. Eventually, the police came round to complete an interview, and off the record said
a) there seemed to be rather a lot of this going on, and
b) you got to do it once, don't try it twice (at least not in the same area, anyway ;) )

He was quite "helpful" in completing my statement, which included a response to "And how do you propose to ensure that the same situation doesn't arise in the future, sir?".

Cheers - SLF

16th Feb 2004, 04:32
What is a "petrolhead"?

Semble, it is a pejorative term.

Does its use by a magistrate imply bias?

16th Feb 2004, 04:56
The ne plus ultra of petrolheads is of course Jeremy Clarkson.


Honi soit, etc?

16th Feb 2004, 05:09
Who is Jeremy Clarkson?

What is his relevance?

16th Feb 2004, 05:56
Jeremy Clarkson is a gentleman who wears jeans that are too tight, a dodgy haircut, who is on the telly in the UK who knows loads about cars............and how to destroy them.

16th Feb 2004, 06:01
Thank you, Mr J.

It appears that we on the Bench know how to deal with his sort.

Res ipsa loquitur.

16th Feb 2004, 06:03
I feel the High Court beckons...

16th Feb 2004, 06:05
Don't get me wrong, Mr Clarkson is a talented journalist who TV show "Top Gear" is watched by many (me included). When the search function is up and running again, if you do a search on "Top Gear", "Clarkson" or "The Stig" (long story), you'll find much more about him.

He does have a habit of taking old cars and beating the crap out of them in highly entertaining ways (didn't he once shoot a Montego or something with a tank?)

Flying Lawyer
16th Feb 2004, 17:30
Come on U_R.
Davaar's generally astute and his latest observation is no exception. ;) Although I'm sure you put your personal prejudices aside and are impeccably impartial when sitting as a JP, I've yet to read a single contribution to a 'motoring' thread in which you've shown any sympathy towards the 'defence' side of a discussion.


I haven't read the Law Report but, assuming the Telegraph report is accurate (Times and Telegraph law reports usually are), the following points emerge:

(1) This decision was based on the facts of this particular case. It doesn't follow that such a claim will always be disbelieved.
In this case, neither the magistrates court nor the Crown Court believed this appellant's claim that neither he nor his wife could remember which of them was driving at the relevant time.
That doesn't mean (I hope) that such a claim will never be believed. eg If two people share the driving on a long motorway journey, it's entirely reasonable (and credible) that they might not know who was driving at the relevant time.

(2) Parliament, in its infinite wisdom, has decided the burden should be on an accused citizen to show he did not know, or could not with reasonable diligence ascertain, the identity of the driver at the relevant time.
However that's dressed up, it's a complete reversal of the burden of proof upon which virtually our entire criminal procedure is based. The effect is that a motorist suspected of speeding has fewer rights than someone suspected of a serious crime. It's hardly surprising that so many people think that's cock-eyed.

(3) The Courts had already decided, as a matter of law, that the legislation is not incompatible with the privilege against self-incrimination.
The Courts have to try to give effect to laws passed by Parliament. Mere mortals such a I would have had difficulty understanding how that could be achieved in this instance, given the relevant Human Rights legislation. But, never under-estimate the intellectual ingenuity of the Law Lords (in this instance sitting as the Privy Council.) They said the privilege against self-incrimination isn't absolute after all - despite what we've believed for centuries - and Parliament is entitled to introduce exceptions when expedient. They accepted that this exception (created by Parliament) was 'a proportionate response to the serious social problem of road safety.' :rolleyes:

Parliament doesn't regard (for example) murder, rape, child molesting or burglary as presenting a sufficiently "serious social problem" to remove suspects' rights against self-incrimination, or to reverse the burden of proof. People suspected of those offences are not obliged to incriminate themselves, and are not required to prove their innocence.
Comparing the rights of suspected murderers, rapists, child molesters and burglars with the rights (such as they are) of motorists suspected of breaking the speed limit merely serves to prove that, occasionally, the law is indeed an ass.

NB: Don't blame 'the lawyers' or 'the legal system' - our democratically elected representatives in Parliament made the law.

16th Feb 2004, 18:27

But I protest! I made no comment, I merely lifted the law report from the Telegraph on the assumption that it would interest many who haunt Jetblast.

I was going to suggest that you have a little of the petrolhead about you, but I suppose that these days it must be Avtur, which doesn't slip off the tongue so nicely.

Send Clowns
17th Feb 2004, 01:17
Your title itself is a comment, as Flying Lawyer was pointing out.

17th Feb 2004, 01:46
Comment? Of course it isn't.

Talk about ungrateful! We all know that the enforcement of speeding laws is a matter of great concern to many JetBlast folk. So in my usual helpful way, when I came across a judgement that was relevant to many previous posts I risked the wrath of the Scouser and cut and pasted it here.

Do I get any thanks? The heck I do! I post a dead-straight report from the Divisional Court, the fruit of esteemed judges with J and LJ after their names, and what do I get? I get accused of being unsympathetic to motorists. Perhaps it's the word Petrolheads, but that was merely to add a little levity to a post that some might otherwise have seen as turgid and over-wordy.

Well I shall not be deterred from trying to assist my fellow motorists and fellow Pruners when I come across information that might be useful to them.

But it is a bit hurtful, isn't it?:{

17th Feb 2004, 02:14
After reading many of Unwell's posts on motoring threads I wouldnt' fancy any motorist's chances of getting off if he was the JP even if they honestly couldn't remember who was driving at the time.

I stand to be corrected if I've got it wrong but apart from one tale about supporting a motorist friend in troule I honestly can't remember any time when you haven't taken the government or police side in all the many threads about motoring. If I'm wrong point me to the thread and I'll apologise sincerely.

17th Feb 2004, 02:29
Argument tenuous
Magistrate said
Was a term of good cheer
And wept crocodile tear.

“PH disappointed”,
Said the Justice anointed.
Not: “Lieges concerned”,
But “ordainit and decerned”:
And fast as you think,
Put PH in the clink!

Which should they arrest?
Let the cops do their best;
Justice counts it success,
When another does confess.
"Honi soit qui mal y pense"?
Oh! It all makes perfect sense.

17th Feb 2004, 02:55
Oh dear oh dear oh dear U_R

Not "lifting chunks out of the papers" again are we ? The very thing you [falsely] accused me of ?

Still waiting for my apology . . . Or is it one law for you and another for me ?

Send Clowns
17th Feb 2004, 06:55
U_R, unless you are more of a fool than I think you are, and know nothing of the very rhetoric you're using, then you are now lying. Not worth serious debate with a man who refuses to take responsibility for the expression of his opinion.Comment? Of course it isn't.

17th Feb 2004, 07:19
Deary deary me!

I cut and paste a dull legal judgement, enliven it a tad by using the word petrolheads as shorthand for keen motorists, and a number of people get over-excited and start to infer that which I have not implied.

Now I am being accused of telling fibs. That is untrue and unpleasant, but I am big enough and ugly enough to take a bit of vulgar abuse.

But really: all I intended to do was to place a bit of important information in the JB arena.

What could be more innocent? Or more helpful?

brain fade
17th Feb 2004, 09:14
Well I've been 'pinged' twice. Both times I was guilty, albeit of marginal speed exceedance at quiet times. On both occassions I escaped prosecution. on no 1 i pretended i didn't know if it was me or the wife and offered a plausible reason why this might be so. On the second I stated that the offence was caused by an American friend to whom I had lent the car while he was over on holiday.
Now, I'm not proud of my behaviour.
But, if everyone did what I did...............it's game over

Nah Go on plead GUILTY

they started it!

17th Feb 2004, 15:31
So U_R: an insistence on the right to silence and the principle of innocent until proven guilty makes one a petrolhead does it ?

17th Feb 2004, 15:41
Unwell Raptor, biased against the motorist? Surely not, can't believe it! Here's an example of his tolerance :



Next time I get a ticket I'm going to say it was Jeremy Clarkson, some boorish oaf from the south. Or StiQ, or whatever his name is.

17th Feb 2004, 15:59
I am surprised at the inference people draw from the word petrolhead. A quick Google produces over 3700 hits, so it's not a word I made up just to annoy certain Pruners.

As for anti- motorist; I have driven about a million miles, in hundreds of different cars. I first drove at 00.01 am on my 17th birthday. I passed my test less than thre weeks later. I held an RAC competition licence for about ten years. I still have my crash helmet somewhere. In 1974 I was fined ten pounds for speeding.

I was, although the word did not exist then, a petrolhead.

As for not wanting two-and-a-half ton 4 x 4s hurtling past my house and ripping up a road that I have to pay for - I plead guilty to that.

(a note for the sceptics about that million: I have held a licence for over 40 years, and for most of them I did a lot more than 25000 miles pa. These days it's a little less, thank heavens, but overall that's about right)

17th Feb 2004, 18:13
Thread heads off at a tangent - one poster calls another a fool - where have I head that before? :rolleyes: :p

17th Feb 2004, 18:59
Yes Huggy, that's exactly the kind of comment that makes modding such an impossible task at times. A high-wire act of judgement which is impossible to get right 100% of the time.
But isn't it amazing how much you and SC have in common when it comes to making Modding a very tricky business? :p

17th Feb 2004, 19:03
Consistency is all I ask...

Send Clowns
17th Feb 2004, 19:09
U_R - What is the point of a discussion if you are going to be obtuse and seemingly deliberately misinterpret what is being posted? It is quite obvious no-one accused you of making up the word. If it was not in common usage it would not have the establish perjoritive tone that I was commenting on. I did not say you were anti-motorist either (I cannot see where anyone has). You are, however, implying with that the only people affected by the removal of the right to be held innocent until proven guilty, the reversal of the burden of proof, are "petrolheads".

Even if the word only meant "keen motorist" that makes no difference at all, as the issue at question is the possibility of the someone being left with a choice of perjoring him or herself or else being convicted unjustly of refusing to identify the driver. No keeness in driving, or even speeding on that person's part need have occured, as the whole point is someone else may have been driving. You are, in effect, accusing anyone who claims (truthfully or not) not to be able to recall who was driving at a specified time, and is not believed, of being a lying petrolhead.

I apologise if you genuinely did not realise the clear perjorative sense the term gave your post: I am happy to accept that your rhetoric was inadvertant. It just seemed unlikely to me that anyone who wishes to debate important issues of the law, and has training in legal matters, where use of language is so important, can misuse words in so crass a manner.

17th Feb 2004, 19:33
........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz........HUH? WHAT???

A million miles, U-R? Really?

17th Feb 2004, 19:38
Send Clowns,

Further to your comment:

"the issue at question is the possibility of the someone being left with a choice of perjoring him or herself or else being convicted unjustly of refusing to identify the driver."

I don't understand why you would consider it unjust to convict someone who refuses to identify the driver? Isn't it the same principle as withholding evidence? If a person can't remember who was driving their car in a known location at a known time I would question their suitability to be allowed to drive a vehicle in the first place.

17th Feb 2004, 19:45
X-Q, as Flying Lawyer points out, it is conceptually quite easy to understand that, if two people are sharing the driving over a long distance, they may not be able to remember who was actually driving at a given place or time.

As for your point about withholding evidence, it has for a long, long time been an accepted legal principle that nobody need be forced to give evidence against themselves. The accusation of "withholding evidence" does not then arise.

The legal point here is that, in the lack of evidence from one (possible) driver to convict the other, should they be forced to give evidence against themselves, and should the burden of proof be removed from the Crown and placed on the defendants to prove themselves not guilty?

17th Feb 2004, 20:50

Do you think it's a desirable state of affairs when anyone caught speeding on camera can simply avoid conviction by claiming to have a poor memory? I would say that the majority of people who play this card are only too aware of who was driving the vehicle and are just using a legal loophole to avoid conviction.

I'm not a lawyer and wouldn't want to enter into any high-falutin' legal debates where I'd be out of my depth, but it doesn't take the brains of an arch bishop to see when people are clearly taking the p***. Maybe a little more respect for the law of the land wouldn't go amiss....or maybe I'm just being far too naive.

17th Feb 2004, 21:23
I didn't suggest they were claiming to get out of a conviction by claiming to have a poor memory. I merely pointed out one situation, as did FL, in which it would not be unreasonable for them to argue that they, quite reasonably, were unable to recall who was driving at the time.

Do you think it is a desirable state of affairs for people to have to prove themselves innocent?

If you think you can tell when people are taking the pi$$, do you honestly think that a court can't? Bear in mind that in any court, if there is a reasonable doubt, they are entitled to be acquitted. You can decide for yourself, as do most people, on the balance of probabilities. The burden of proof is much stronger in court.

Send Clowns
17th Feb 2004, 22:39

I was not talking about people who are simply refuses. I am talking about people who cannot. Many couples share a car - my parents have only ever had one - and may well have driven the same roads on the same day. I have driven my boss's company car on company business, or borrowed a colleague's car briefly when mine has been in for repair. I would not be able to pinpoint the time a week later in many cases.

You are doing the same as the authorities: assuming that the only reason people are up before the court is that they are guilty. The entire purpose of our legal code is to prevent the abuse of power that this new ruling allows. This can only decrease respect for the law and increase resentment of normally law-abiding people toward the authorities. Remember the rule of law is based on consent. Without that any nation is ungovernable.

17th Feb 2004, 23:16
OK SC and HM, I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

I would argue that it is not reasonable to forget who was driving the car up to a week later. It should be possible to remember that you had borrowed a colleague's car on the date you'd booked your own car in for repairs, and that you'd driven a certain route at a certain time. I would,however, agree that anything longer than a week to 10 days might be a little harder to remember.

SC - to quote you:

"You are doing the same as the authorities: assuming that the only reason people are up before the court is that they are guilty."

There would be little or no doubt that the vehicle had been speeding, only as to who was driving. If the owner of the vehicle states that they weren't driving it and don't know who was, then unless it had been stolen, I would say they are either feeble-minded or pulling a fast one.

Send Clowns
18th Feb 2004, 00:06
But we are not talking about the offense of speeding: that is the whole objection to the thread title. We are discussing the offense of failing to declare the identity of the driver.

No-one says the owner was not driving their vehicle. The owner may not know whether he or she was driving at the time. You have completely failed to even try to justify your statement that "...they are either feeble-minded or pulling a fast one", yet you repeat it despite me and others pointing out cases where you would be completely wrong, and you still continue with petty insults aimed at a broad range of people. These people may not be at all feeble minded, yet have a life and perhaps not note down exact times that the wife, son or daughter nips out in the car. They may actually have more important things to consider over the next couple of weeks.

Flying Lawyer
18th Feb 2004, 17:44
X-QUORK "I would argue that it is not reasonable to forget who was driving the car up to a week later."
I assure you I'm not trying to engage you in a "high-falutin' legal debate", I'm genuinely interested in your views.

If my car is photographed by a speed camera, it's highly likely I was driving - for various reasons, one of which is that I drive it about 90% of the time. However, on very long journeys, my partner and I often share the driving. On a motorway (for example), we take an exit, change over and rejoin the motorway. If I'm required (even the next day) to declare who was driving at a specific location at a specific time, it's highly likely that neither she nor I would know. I wouldn't try to 'pull a fast one', nor would she, but we honestly may not know.

Why, in your opinion, does that make me (or her) "feeble-minded"?
Why, in your opinion, does that call into question my (or her) "suitability to be allowed to drive a vehicle in the first place"?

(Bear in mind that, although fixed speed cameras flash, mobile camera units don't so there'd be nothing to draw attention to the incident until the letter arrived.)

19th Feb 2004, 00:23
I’ll refrain from comment on the substance of this particular English law, save that in “Easing the Passing” Lord Devlin observes that the right against self-incrimination is less ancient than often thought.

I have the highest regard for U_R, and I have no doubt that he is without bias, and that the heading “Petrolheads Disappointed” was innocently jocular. Well, jocular at any rate.

In the time it takes to write I have noted a series of “heads”:

If you are (a) Bottom of the class, (b) Viet Namese, (c) German, (d) Sikh, (e) an “Intellectual”, (f) a young woman, (g) black, or (h) any combination of the above, select the one or others you are pretty sure mean you, and see if you find it or them complimentary.

Apply the same test to Petrolhead. Is it really a compliment? Does U_R really think it is just a word like any other? I have a feeling he is not a big fan of Mr Jeremy Clarkson, and I do not think his allusion to “Honi soit” was called for, a more gentle ad hominem than the usual crass versions we meet here. I had made no accusation. I just asked, and asked in the context of the above-listed non-complimentary “heads”.

People often make “racist” jokes, and the racism industry therefore paints them as raving loony bigots. I do not hold that view. On the other hand, I think it unwise to indulge that inclination from or from near the judgment seat, as it were.

I am just a dull commercial lawyer, but of late I have found myself in other areas. The snag was that I believed an injustice had been done, and no one else would do anything about it. Stick to what you know, the experts tell me. I agree, but in a couple of cases, fortified by ignorance, I bought the books, read them, and was too stupid to know, as they did, that: “It will never work”. Guess what! Sometimes it works.

Right now I have a case of what I am convinced was mistaken identity in a very serious indictable offence, leading to a grave injustice. I can’t say more here and now, although if I win, and that will be many months ahead, if at all, I may share it.

I dislike the word “file”, as in the “Smith” or “Jones” File. That word depersonalises the entire story. We are dealing with the life of Smith or Jones, and he could be you, he really could, and you do not want to have a biased judge.

Twice I have been charged with motoring offences and twice contested. In the first the charge was thrown out. In the second (rear-ended while stationary in traffic) I made three visits to the Police HQ and one to the Crown Prosecutor. They eventually agreed, confronted with my licence plates and sticker (Road Fund Licence to you) and dated Ministry receipt, and valid insurance cover note, that it was the other fellow, not I, who was driving without a sticker or insurance. They had just got the wrong man.

The closest most come to the law is in the most junior courts. It is not surprising that many have an apprehension of bias there. Petrolheads does not help. I think it is a comment; or so close to a comment that it would have been better not made.

19th Feb 2004, 01:56
I think, Davaar, that rather than derogatory in the ways you have outlined above petrolhead is a backhanded geeky compliment used between car nerds. The reverend JC being the high druid of petrolheads has been mentioned here many times and would not take offence to the term.

Send Clowns
19th Feb 2004, 02:04
I have never seen it used in that way, Chaffers. I have only ever seen it used as a term for people obsessed by fast cars/bikes or by driving more modest cars very fast. Almost without exception it was used in a perjorative or sneering sense. I'm not sure I have ever seen a term for a car nerd (apart from perhaps "Kevin" for someone who soups up a Vauxhall Nova though that is not what I would call nerdy) and I'm not even sure such a term exists.

19th Feb 2004, 03:27
Davaar:- Esteemed Sir:

I accept your rebuke - no - advice. I used the P word as a kind of shorthand that is understood by those with whom I socialise, but I overlooked the existence of a world outside the Thames Valley.

You are also right that my part-time job might lead PPRuNe folk to infer that I am less than impartial in dealing with particular cases. If I thought that I were so, then I should resign forthwith.

This Prune place is international, influential, inspirational, infuriational, and any number of polysyllabic things, but it is still only an Internet Bulletin Board.

The rest of my life, like yours, is real, is it not? And the rules are different there.


Your poem was crap, as poems go, but I gave up trying to respond in kind! I am starting to learn my limitations.

PPS No backhanded compliments from me, are there? But I am a kindly soul, and I forgive you for yours, now and henceforth.

19th Feb 2004, 04:24
Mr Raptor
It's a fair point 'Petrolhead' is sometimes used non perjoratively as slang for car enthusiast and if anyone else had used it people might have thought it was used in that way, but your very strong views on motoring matters are (in)famous on this forum.

You've responded to the learned Davaar. Any chance you could respond to my post? I'll repeat it just in case you missed it accidentally. I stand to be corrected if I've got it wrong but apart from one tale about supporting a motorist friend in trouble I honestly can't remember any time when you haven't taken the government or police side in all the many threads about motoring. If I'm wrong point me to the thread and I'll apologise sincerely. Am I wrong?

Can I please ask a second question while I'm at it?
As Davaar says, "the closest most come to the law is in the most junior courts" and I read somewhere a big percenteage of driving cases are heard by JP's. I realise you give your personal views here, but can you understand why someone who reads your personal views might be worried if they weren't guilty and you were dealing with their case? And even more worried if other JP's think the same way as you?
I agree JB is only a forum not the real world but are you sayign the posts you make on driving threads aren't your real views?

BTW, you say your a JP in the Thames Valley. Coincidentally, I read an article this week that said Thames Valley has more speed cameras than any other area in the country and wants to have more mobile speed cameras because drivers are getting to know where the fixed ones are and slow down. Odd that. I thought the 'official' explananation for speed cameras was to get people to slow down at accident black spots. :confused:

19th Feb 2004, 05:03
I don't think that talking about me will interest anyone, but since you ask a serious question, here is a serious answer, point by point:

"your very strong views on motoring matters are (in)famous on this forum"

Nearly all of my posts are reactive. I admit to being irritated by well-off middle class people who are strongly in favour of law enforcement except when they are driving a car.

"I honestly can't remember any time when you haven't taken the government or police side"

That's because I am reacting to others' posts, as per the above.

" I read somewhere a big percentage of driving cases are heard by JP's."

Yes, the percentage is nearly 100.

"can you understand why someone who reads your personal views might be worried if they weren't guilty and you were dealing with their case?"

I respond to those who think that there is something special about speeding, or drink driving or whatever that differentiates them from other offences.

In court I treat every case with meticulous care. Don't forget thet there are usually three of us on the bench. I believe that I have the confidence of my colleagues who know me, and I have to be happy with that.

"I agree JB is only a forum not the real world but does that mean the posts you make on driving threads aren't your real views?"

You misunderstand me. Like everyone, I have views on politics and current affairs and I leave them at the courthouse door. I have taken an oath to apply the law, and that is what I do. If I disapprove of the law, I apply it nevertheless. There is at least one distinguished legal professional who posts on this BB who does exactly the same.

"You say your a JP in the Thames Valley"

No, that is where I live. More than that I cannot add. But if I were a Thames Valley JP I would in any case have nothing to do with camera policy. That is a matter for the police and the local authority.

I am, you see, not a player - I am a referee. But even referees can have personal views so long as they keep them away from the pitch. And just like sports referees, I am accused of bias by losers who do not like the result.

19th Feb 2004, 05:28
Now that questions about U_R's views as expressed here vs his task as a JP have been asked & answered, could we perhaps return to the subject of the thread?
Much obliged. ;)

19th Feb 2004, 06:24
Quite right, too. What DO Petrolheads think on this vexed topic? He asks; let him answer; and answer the other questioners.

For my part, I shall not point out his fallacies in logic, evasions, squirmings, and equivocations, and the fact that it is his comment, not his "part-time job", that might lead "PPRuNe folk to infer that he is less than impartial in dealing with particular cases". I shall not even mention those. My lips are sealed.

Tell you this, though: I am shocked and dismayed, not to say very very hurt, by his literary criticism. He will not always have me around to treat so shamefully. How will he feel then?

Flying Lawyer
19th Feb 2004, 08:59
I'm used to having to accept judges' rulings - even when I don't understand their point ;) - so I'll accept it with good grace if you think it necessary to delete this post. Both U_R and I have chosen to reveal our different roles in the legal system so we can't complain when we're challenged. We're also both express our views on motoring topics in quite a punchy way, so surely people who disagree with us are entitled to ask us punchy questions?
If you'll allow it, I'd like to respond to Datcon who asked some serious questions which IMHO arose naturally from the discussion which has developed from the original 'subject of the thread.'

U_R and I obviously hold completely opposite views on this and related topics. I can't remember agreeing with a single point he's ever made on any motoring topic over the years - and that includes his response to Datcon which, if he'll forgive me for saying so, was also ever so slightly evasive. ;)
U_R appears to agree with all our road traffic laws and with the way they're enforced. I think some laws are silly (eg the 70 mph limit on all motorways regardless of conditions), some are enforced far too harshly (eg trivial speeding offences whether detected by speed cameras or reported by over-zealous traffic police), and some are plain unfair (eg the Penalty Points system).
U_R believes the official line on speed cameras (road safety) whereas I think we've now gone way beyond that into revenue-producing.
We even disagree on the most fundamental issue. No injury or fatality is 'acceptable' in a literal sense but, in the real world, they are inevitable and I don't think the level is unacceptable relative to volume of traffic, nor do I think it consitutes a problem which needs to be addressed.

However, U_R and I are in complete agreement on one the non-motoring aspect of his last post:
No-one involved in the legal system in any capacity should allow a personal opinion/prejudice to influence the way in which we perform our various tasks. You can't have a system where the fate of an accused person depends (in this context) upon whether the procecutor, JP or Judge is an enthusiastic driver and/or personally agrees/disagrees with a particular law.
In my early days cutting my teeth on traffic cases in the lower courts, I often had to prosecute drivers for whom I personally had great sympathy, but I couldn't allow those views to influence the way I prosecuted. Think about the poor driver in an identical case being prosecuted by some other young barrister with completely different views about driving.
In later years, I prosecuted drivers in the Crown Court accused of causing death by dangerous driving when, in my personal view, their driving wasn't dangerous and they were just unlucky. Sometimes they were convicted and went to prison for several years, sometimes they were acquitted and walked free - but it was nothing to do with my views or the way in which I prosecuted. In each case, I simply presented the prosecution evidence fairly and to the best of my professional ability - it's the jury's job to decide whether or not they were guilty. Anything less would have been grossly unfair. Again, think about the poor driver in an identical case being prosecuted by a barrister who considers driving at anything more than a few miles over the speed limit is automatically dangerous regardless of road conditions.

As U_R rightly says, those of us involved in the legal system, whether as professionals or volunteers and whether in the lower or higher courts, have to apply the law fairly and uniformly regardless of whether or not we think the law is right. Anything less would be unjust.


Totally agreed about applying the law regardless of personal views, but do you actually disagree with any road traffic laws or with the way they're enforced?
If so, which?

Also -
I feel duty bound to draw to your attention some absolutely disgraceful behaviour reported in a newspaper yesterday. (I'm too embarrassed to tell you which newspaper, but someone left it on the train and I'd finished mine.) A police speed camera van sent 17 tickets to itself after lads nicked one of its number plates and put it on their own car in Canberra, Australia. Of course, the worst aspect is that some people will think that sort of conduct is funny!

19th Feb 2004, 14:31
The pair of you could convince a Biafran to go on the Atkins diet...........

But even this lowly Mod can see the fairness in not depriving FL & Davaar of the chance to have their say.
To muzzle such legal loquaciousness would truly amount to unwarranted Cruelty to Lawyers. ;)

Perhaps now we can return to the thread and refrain from discussing U_R?
If my 3 learned friends don't object that is............ :p

19th Feb 2004, 19:48
Ms Moderator
I'm not sure what you want us to do. :confused: Sure it's moved on from the original subject but everyone looks happy and it's running good with lots of posts.
Unwell-Raptor often mentions he's a JP who tries cases. We wouldn't know if he didn't mention it so I don't see why he should be protected from people saying their kinda worried about a JP with his personal views especially when it turns out 100% of driving cases in England are tried in the JP's courts. No surprise people are kinda worried he's trying cases when the personal opinions he post are never balanced and ALWAYS on the police side. If your views are SO strong and SO extreme I just don't see how you can put them out of your mind whatever he and FL say.
It's all fine and dandy for U-R to say he only "applies the law" but JP's decide whether a defendant is guilty or innocent. After all the sarcastic comments he's posted about people who "claim" they don't know who was driving through the speed trap I don't see how anyone who says that in his court is going to get an even break.
BTW, I think there's only two 'learned friends' not three. I'll be corrected if I'm wrong but I'm sure I saw on another thread that JP's in England don't have any legal qualifications.

19th Feb 2004, 22:02
Dear Mr/Ms Bronx, as I have NO qualifications whatsoever in any field at all apart from speaking a few languages not quite fluently and the ability to serve a flawless cup of coffee at 35.000 ft, and this is after all an anonymous bulletin board where anyone can claim to be the Queen of Sheeba, the 'learned friends' was meant humorously. A gentle dig at my own ignorance and the cleverness of the 3 main protagonists here if you will.
(also, I'm not British and have no idea who may or may not call/be called a *learned friend* in the UK)

I quite understand why you think that discussing U_R, his job and his personal opinions would be germane to a thread he started. Of course I do. At the same time, it is PPRuNe and Jetblast policy to rather discuss opinions than the people who hold them. This to keep discussions from descending into flame wars and to avoid the board becoming both ultimately boring and unmoderatable.

In this thread the the discussion of persona and of the opinions held have become hopelessly intertwined. Had I intervened earlier, this would have been avoided. At the same time, some very interesting matters would not have been discussed.
On a personal note, I would also have missed out on having my funny bone tickled by reading how both Davaar and FL profess to abide by my moderating and then promptly proceed to cleverly and totally ignore it. ;)
However interesting and enjoyable this thread, as a Mod I still need to uphold the same rules here as those which govern the forum elsewhere.

As another PPRuNe Mod is fond of saying, moderating is like abuse, best self inflicted. As soon as it is done by someone else, it becomes an irritant. So whatever we do as Mods, it will never please all of the people all of the time.
That's for us to live with, and for you as well.

While we are not encouraged to discuss the dos and don'ts of moderating decisions, the nature of this thread and the lack of overt agression displayed has made me feel that it's not such a bad thing to answer your points, since you seem genuinely interested.

I hope I have not wasted my time and yours by answering too extensively.

Flying Lawyer
20th Feb 2004, 00:14
Oh no! :eek: Davaar and I won't be able to use that lawyers' trick again! :)
You're entirely fair rebuke reminds me of an incident many years ago when I was cross-examining a police officer in front of a now retired lady Judge who was notorious for constantly intervening in the 'arena' instead of letting counsel get on with their cross-examination. After being interrupted (yet again) and told not to pursue a line of questioning which I wanted the jury to hear I (yet again) immediately accepted her ruling without argument.
Judge, in an exasperated voice: "Mr Tudor Owen!! Will you please stop saying 'Yes, Your Honour'!! Every time I stop you doing something I get a charming 'Yes, Your Honour', 'Of course, Your Honour', 'Three bags full, Your Honour.' I've only just realised you don't take a blind bit of notice of what I've said, and just carry on anyway." To her credit, she had the good grace to join in the laughter when I responded, deliberately ambiguously, 'Yes, Your Honour.'
In the context of this topic, people and views are inextricably interwoven and no harm's been done because we've been having a good discussion without bad feeling/flaming. (U_R and I obviously disagree on motoring topics, but we often exchange friendly PMs on various matters.) However, although I respectfully disagree with Your Modship's ruling, I accept it - and will comply with it. :D
We may well have lost the flow of the discussion now but, in an attempt to get back to the topic raised in the first post ..............

As the report Unwell_Raptor posted makes clear, car-owners suspected of speeding can be required by law to incriminate themselves or, if it wasn't them, to give the name of the driver - and can be prosecuted and punished if they refuse to do so.
In contrast, if someone suspected of a criminal offence is asked whether he was present at a specified place at a specified time, he has the right to remain silent, the right not to incriminate himself and the right to challenge the police/prosecution to prove their allegation without any help from him. (Further, he is not required by law to incriminate anyone else even if he knows or believes he knows the identity of the offender.)

Do people think it's fair/reasonable/right that people suspected of breaking the speed limit are allowed fewer rights than people suspected of criminal offences?

(U_R: We both know the law and both have to apply it. I'd be interested to know whether you agree with the law.)

Jerrichos MIL
20th Feb 2004, 16:55
Of course not. :rolleyes:

He would post everywhere but on a thread that needs some brains. Conspicuously absent.

28th Feb 2004, 07:23
From The Times

(NB: I, U_R hereby declare that the following is a cut and paste article taken from a national newspaper, and that it shall not be deemed to be, nor shall it be deemed not to be, the personal opinion of the aforesaid U_R)

The Government has announced an increase in the maximum sentence for causing death by driving dangerously, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Road safety campaigners are sceptical that increasing the maximum penalty — from ten to fourteen years’ imprisonment — will be a sufficient deterrent. The maximum sentence is rarely imposed; more commonly, judges hand down terms of three to five years for causing death on the roads. Campaigners believe that if a minimum penalty of two or three years’ imprisonment were imposed, it would send a clearer message to those who might otherwise not think twice about careering recklessly on the roads.
Among motorists generally, speeding is seen, in the same way that drinking and driving once was, as acceptable; it is only getting caught that is socially unacceptable. This is partly out of bravado, and a mis- taken belief that “I can handle it”. It is partly because overregulation has created dis- respect for speed limits. To win back respect for the law, the Government should consider raising speed limits where conditions allow it: on empty motorways, for instance, or on straight, quiet roads at night. Modern vehicles and road surfaces are safer as well as faster than those commonly in use when most speed limits were set.

As long as speed limits do exist — and even if they are unreasonably low — they should be rigorously enforced. The current debate over the use, and occasional over-use, of speed cameras shows, however, how easily the balance of the law is upset. Ministers have rightly become concerned at plummeting respect for a system which will issue up to three million fines this year. They will now tell police and local authorities to publish the accident history of every speed camera site, before and after installation of the camera.

For the key to acceptable enforcement, as to government in general, is accountability. And the facts about the efficacy of cameras speak for themselves. A camera may be installed on a road only if there have been four deaths or serious injuries as a result of speeding in the previous three years, and nearly all adhere to this rule. Publishing the figures will winkle out the ones that do not. According to the Government, cameras cut the number of casualties and serious injuries in their area on average by 35 per cent, although the figures can range from a 67 per cent fall to a 15 per cent rise. Publishing the outcomes will help to convince public opinion where the cameras are effective, and shame police into removing them where they are acting as cash machines, not as deterrents.

More importantly, the figures may act as a small step towards changing a culture which refuses to acknowledge how dangerous driving is. Those who champion the “freedom of the road” at all costs cut into the liberties of others, often to the extent of cutting them down completely. There are an unacceptably high number of deaths on the roads: around 3,400 people each year, 2,600 of them motorists, cyclists or passengers rather than pedestrians. The numbers who die in train accidents are tiny by comparison: ten in 2002-03, five the previous year and seventeen the year before that.

Yet, as a culture, we react with horror to rail crashes while accepting the far higher number of motoring casualties as a price somehow worth paying. There is an inherent casualness in our driving culture — we are aware of the benefits, but have never properly factored in the responsibility that accompanies the potential danger posed by the automobile. Scare advertisements, fines and tougher sentences will make a contribution to the raising of our consciousness, but, in the end, the individual behind the wheel has the lives of others in his or her hands.

28th Feb 2004, 21:04
Unwell! Unwell! You don't really think you're going to drag me into this squabble, do you?

28th Feb 2004, 23:13
One can live in hope!