|Lord & Lady Howard Arriving At Court|
Former Tory leader Michael Howard has been convicted of failing to say who was driving his car when it was caught by a speed camera.
Lord Howard, 75, and his wife Sandra, 76, both claimed either could have been driving their Toyota Prius, which was clocked at 37.3 mph in a 30mph zone.
The former Home Secretary and Leader of the Opposition was fined £900, with £625 costs, plus a £90 victim surcharge and received six penalty points on his driving licence.
The couple admit one of them was behind the wheel of the car as it sped along Lewisham Way, south east London on January 24.
Lord and Lady Howard, a novelist and ex-model, were returning from a weekend at their Kent home in his former constituency of Folkestone and Hythe to their Westminster address.
Lord Howard, of Alderney Street was convicted of failing to give information relating to the identification of a vehicle to the Metropolitan Police.
Prosecutor Mr. Andrew Perry told Wimbledon Magistrates Court: “Shrugging your shoulders and saying: ‘I can’t remember’ is not enough.
“He said: ‘It could be me, it could be my wife. We make that journey regularly and we can’t remember who was driving.”
Lord Howard fought the case and even called his wife as a witness to back up his account.
“When I’m with my wife, which is regularly, we have no regular routine,” the QC said from the witness box.
“We were driving back from Kent, a journey we make very regularly and who drives depends on circumstances of whether one of us is tired, has work to do or is reading.
“We have a home in Kent where we go for weekends in my former constituency.”
When asked again if he recalled who was driving Lord Howard said: “I very much wish that I did, unfortunately I don’t.”
Because the couple were holidaying in Grenada they did not receive the notification letter until over three weeks after the speeding offence.
“I tried as hard as I could to remember who was driving. It was almost a month before. I simply couldn’t remember.
“Neither of us has any desire to escape the consequences of our actions. I couldn’t truthfully complete the form.”
He has three points on his licence for speeding in 2014 and Lady Howard has an old conviction for the same offence.
“I have no incentive to dissemble about this matter. I’d rather the driver was identified.
“We frequently change over during the course of the journey. It’s a sixty-five mile journey.”
Lady Howard told the court: “We were not trying to hide anything. We simply couldn’t remember.”
District Judge Barbara Barnes did not criticise the couple’s evidence, describing them both as “credible.”
She added: “The defendant did speak to his wife to try and remember who was driving. They did rack their brains.”
However, Lord Howard should have initially given full details of who the other driver could have been, including name, age and address, rather than simply saying his ‘wife.’
“At no stage did the defendant provide the particulars of his wife in his letter. To simply refer to his ‘wife’ does not provide sufficient information.
“The reasonable diligence has not been made out and I’m not in a position to give any credit since there was no plea of guilty.”
Afterwards Lord Howard said: “I intend to appeal.”