Page last updated at 19:39 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Texting peer 'happy' to be free

Lord Ahmed speaks about his release

A peer has spoken of his desire to return to work after he was freed from a jail sentence by the Court of Appeal.

Lord Ahmed, 52, was jailed for 12 weeks last month after he admitted sending and receiving text messages while driving on the M1.

Minutes later his Jaguar hit a stationary car in the outside lane, killing the driver.

Lord Ahmed, of Rotherham, said he was "very happy" at the Court of Appeal's decision to free him.

He was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court after pleading guilty to dangerous driving.

The crash happened near junction 35 of the southbound carriageway, at Rotherham in South Yorkshire.

Texting 'outrageous'

Lord Ahmed sent and received a series of five text messages while driving in the dark along a 17-mile stretch of the motorway.

Police, the sentencing judge and the Court of Appeal all said his texting was not related to the crash.

They agreed there was little he could have done to avoid the crash, which killed Martyn Gombar, 28, from Leigh, Greater Manchester.

The appeal court suspended his sentence for 12 months on Thursday because of "exceptional" mitigation relating to his community work.

Lord Ahmed told BBC News: "I am happy to be back with my family and I am delighted that I will be able to go back to my work on Monday morning and start doing all the work that I was doing in the House of Lords and with the communities.

"I help a lot of charities, I work in the House of Lords, I help a lot of people.

"I make representations on their behalf and I'll continue to do so whether it's in this country or internationally."

After Thursday's appeal hearing road safety charities criticised the decision to free Lord Ahmed after 16 days of his sentence.

A spokesman for Brake said: "Driving is one of the most dangerous things that most of us do on a daily basis. It requires complete concentration and both hands on the wheel.

"To take your hands off the wheel to send a text is outrageous and completely unacceptable."

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