Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Harriet Harman fined 350 for careless driving

Harriet Harman
Ms Harman said the incident had been portrayed wrongly in the media

Labour Party deputy leader Harriet Harman has been fined £350 after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention.

She reversed into a parked car in Camberwell, south London, last July, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

A second charge of driving while using a mobile phone was withdrawn.

Ms Harman, who did not attend the hearing, said she "fully" accepted the judgement. She had three points added to her driving licence.

The Camberwell and Peckham MP, who was at a cabinet meeting in Downing Street at the time of the hearing, was also ordered to pay £75 costs and a £15 "victim surcharge".

'Seen by neighbour'

Prosecutor Michael Jennings said Ms Harman had been involved in a minor collision in Bushey Hill Road on 3 July, the day she visited constituents who had been made homeless by a fire at a block of flats.

He said she had been attempting to manoeuvre her Rover 75 out from between two parked vehicles when she reversed into one of them.

Ms Harman, who is also House of Commons leader and equality minister, was using her mobile phone when she got into the car and throughout the low-speed incident, the court heard.

Ms Harman is pleased that it has been established that this was not a 'hit-and-run' accident as portrayed in some media reports
Harriet Harman's spokesman

Mr Jennings said the owner of the parked car had been watching from his flat and called police to report the bump.

But the prosecutor said no damage had been caused to either car and no insurance claims had been made.

The court heard that Ms Harman already has six penalty points on her licence after being caught speeding in a 30mph zone, in 2007 and 2008.

Motorists with 12 points on their licence face a ban. Ms Harman now has a total of nine.

Solicitor Mark Haslam, who represented Ms Harman, said the matter could have been dealt with by a letter.

He said: "This is a parking manoeuvre. It takes place in a very short time span. It takes place at a very slow speed, less than 5mph.

"There is no injury, no damage and no insurance claim by either party in relation to either vehicle."

A spokesman for the minister, who is also a QC and former solicitor general, said: "Ms Harman fully accepts the court's judgement.

"Ms Harman is pleased that the potential charges of leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging particulars and failing to report an accident to the police have been dropped.

"Ms Harman is pleased that it has been established that this was not a 'hit-and-run' accident as portrayed in some media reports. It was a parking incident and no damage was done."

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