Letter of the law must be observed by prosecutors

Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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Some might feel that Kevin Crane was lucky indeed to escape punishment for driving at 9mph over the limit the authorities intended to impose in a temporary speed restriction zone on the A27 near Havant.

Critics could suggest he has 'got away with it' after a successful fight in court.

But actually he was fully entitled to mount his defence and, much as we have consistently said that drivers should obey the rules of the road, he has in a way done all of us a service by challenging his speeding ticket.

Undoubtedly other drivers who were captured by a 'yellow vulture' speed camera exceeding 40mph in a stretch of roadworks in November 2009 will have simply paid their fine.

Mr Crane was having none of that. Convicted in his absence, he then fought for a retrial and was acquitted.

His argument was simple. When his car was recorded by a camera travelling at 49mph, there were not, as the law requires, sufficient warning signs about the temporary speed limit.

The fact that these had not been put in position for safety reasons, namely that it was judged that high winds made them a potential road hazard, made not a jot of difference in legal terms.

In Mr Crane's view, the law said the signs had to be there in order for the speed limit to be enforceable, and they were not. Case proven!

Now the Crown Prosecution Service has effectively accepted his argument that he believed the roadworks had finished, deciding not to contest his appeal against a 490 fine.

It had come to court with three camera experts, but Mr Crane never intended to dispute the camera evidence. His argument was solely about the lack of signage.

What this case shows is that it is not only individuals who should obey the law, but also those who are responsible for upholding it.

The letter of the law is as important as its spirit. Those charged with bringing transgressors to book should ensure they are doing so in a way which complies fully with legislation.