My father, a ‘bus driver, was stopped by a police motorcyclist for crossing a traffic light at red. He had noticed the police motorcyclist behind him for a quarter of a mile previous to this and was dumbfounded when the officer stopped him, as nobody in their right mind does anything stupid when they know they are being tailed. However, after protesting his innocence the officer became rather authoritarian and informed him brusquely that lie would be prosecuted.
Three people in the ‘bus came forward and gave their names as witnesses for my father, stating that he had definitely not crossed the traffic light at red. (It is a known fact in ‘bus circles that passengers are definitely hostile to ‘bus drivers if their safety is endangered in the slightest way.)
My father defended the case through his Union and his completely neutral and unbiased witnesses came forward to give evidence on his behalf and dismissal of the case seemed a foregone conclusion, but the police had a surprise witness– a young woman who said she was travelling on the ‘bus and had seen it cross a red light. When questioned she seemed unsure of the route number of the ‘bus. None of my father’s three witnesses or the ‘bus conductor remembered seeing her where she alleged she had been sitting. (It seems rather peculiar that the police always have the greatest difficulty in finding witnesses who may have seen a suspect on a ‘bus or the like in perhaps a murder case and have to call on the Press or TV to give It national publicity and then rarely do they find anybody. But they can locate, seemingly out of the blue, a witness for a trivial traffic offence.) Draw your own conclusions.
This still only made it two against four, but the Magistrate found the case proved and fined my father £4, and endorsed his licence, to cap forty years accident-free driving on all types of vehicle from motorcycles to the biggest of heavy haulage lorries.
He will appeal if he can persuade his Union to take the case further and to bear the costs, as such an action is prohibitively expensive for the ordinary man.
One would think that three unbiased witnesses would be sufficient to prove innocence, but of course if the Magistrate had found in my father’s favour it would have implied that the police officer had lied and the police witness had perjured herself!
As a closing comment I had always fondly imagined that British Justice was based on “rather ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted” and “if there is the slightest shadow of doubt.” etc., etc.
I apologise for writing at such length but “hell hath no fury like an indignant motorist.”
If the appeal goes forward I will let you know the result.
[Name and address supplied.—ED.]
[Be careful it doesn’t happen to you Private motorists. – ED.]