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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 12:54 GMT
159mph Pc's acquittal overturned
Pc Mark Milton
Pc Milton was recorded doing 159mph in December 2003
A police constable who reached 159mph on a motorway has had his acquittal for speeding and dangerous driving overturned by the High Court.

Pc Mark Milton, 38, from Telford, Shropshire, was recorded by the patrol car's video camera on the M54 in 2003.

District Judge Bruce Morgan earlier cleared him after hearing he was "familiarising" himself with a new car.

On Wednesday, two High Court judges sent the case back to Ludlow Magistrates' Court to be heard again.

The judges ruled the district judge erred in law when acquitting the West Mercia officer of dangerous driving in the police vehicle last May, after describing him as the "creme de la creme" of police drivers.

'Simply inadmissible'

Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Owen, said the district judge had taken into account irrelevant matters, including opinions of senior officers that Pc Milton's driving was not dangerous.

She said that evidence was "simply inadmissible" and an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against his acquittal would be allowed on that basis.

The case has been sent back to Ludlow magistrates for a re-hearing before a differently-constituted bench.

After the case, the CPS said in a statement: "We felt it was correct that we should appeal the decision in the case of PC Mark Milton, and we are pleased the Court of Appeal has agreed with us."

But Mr Milton's solicitor, David Twigg, said the ruling would have wide implications for the way police officers are trained.

"I think that the court had the impression today that what went on in West Mercia was in some way individual, and idiosyncratic and it wasn't," he said.

"The problem is going to be that high speed driving, for operational purposes, is quite frankly, essential if the police force is going to be effective.

"If that's going to be done safely, it's got to be done by drivers who are practised in doing it in non-operational circumstances when the adrenaline isn't running."

'National guidelines'

A West Mercia Police spokesman said it would be "inappropriate to comment" after the High Court referred the case back to a lower court.

But he added: "In West Mercia, clear guidelines which ensure that all advanced drivers know what they can and cannot do when driving vehicles above the posted speed limit - in accordance with national training guidelines - have been circulated."

The guidelines allow for officers to exceed limits, but never to drive at more than 120mph.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: "We are relieved that the courts are going to look at this issue again.

"There was genuine concern not just from RoSPA, but from members of the public about the original decision."


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