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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 16:17 GMT
Cameras record High Court appeal
Jim Speechley
The former council leader was jailed for 18 months
An appeal by a former council leader against his misconduct conviction has made legal history as the first case to be filmed by TV cameras.

Former Lincs County Council leader Jim Speechley was jailed for 18 months in April for trying to influence the route of a bypass for personal gain.

Footage of Mr Speechley's appeal is being used for evaluation purposes.

The Royal Courts of Justice is considering whether court proceedings should be broadcast in news bulletins.

The cameras were focused on the lawyers in the case and on the appeal judges - Lord Justice Kennedy, Mr Justice Bell and Mr Justice Hughes.

'Mixed motives'

Mr Speechley, a Tory councillor, was alleged to have suggested an alteration to the initial proposed route of the Crowland bypass near his home in Lincolnshire because it would enhance the value of one of his fields.

The alteration would have ensured that the four-acre field would not be cut off from the village by a busy main road.

The fact that he saw a benefit for himself along the way does not make him dishonest
William Harbage, QC

His counsel, William Harbage QC, told the Court of Appeal that his route proposal was in fact adopted, with the support of 81% of local people who voted.

The court was told that the crucial issue was whether Mr Speechley was motivated by self-interest or for the good of the community.

Mr Harbage argued that Judge Lawler's summing-up to the jury did not adequately cover the issue of "mixed motives".

"The fact that he saw a benefit for himself along the way does not make him dishonest," Mr Harbage said.

Martin Wilson QC said it was obvious from the guilty verdict that the jury found Mr Speechley was dishonest.

He said the prosecution had recognised that there were benevolent motives and Mr Speechley was an active supporter of a new bypass because the old road was very dangerous.

But misconduct was not necessarily the product of a single driving force, he said.

The former council leader was released in August on condition he wears an electronic tag and obeys a night-time curfew.

He retains his position as a councillor pending the outcome of his appeal, which is expected to last for two days.


SEE ALSO:
Former council leader to appeal
29 Jul 04 |  Lincolnshire
Former council leader is jailed
02 Apr 04 |  Leicestershire


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