Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Letter delay man wins speed case

Speed camera [generic]
Mr Gidden was caught going at 85mph on the M180 motorway

A man charged with speeding has had his conviction quashed because a postal strike led to his notification letter being delivered too late.

Peter Gidden, 48, of Dodworth, South Yorkshire, received his letter two days late after a postal strike in 2007.

The law states that police must send notice of intention to prosecute within 14 days of an alleged offence.

On Thursday the High Court ruled that the conviction was not legal because the time limit had not been met.

Mr Gidden was caught on a speed camera doing 85mph (137km/h) on the M180 in Lincolnshire in October 2007.

But a backlog of mail caused by a postal strike at the time held up the letter sent by police.

'Matter of principle'

He received it after 16 days had passed.

Following his decision, Lord Justice Elias said the case was relevant to the current postal strikes and said the law may have to be revised to avoid similar issues in the future.

He said: "The authorities must adopt other means of warning, if they are to avoid the risk of late delivery.

"Alternatively, the remedy lies in the hands of Parliament by amending...the 1988 [Road Traffic Offenders] Act."

Mr Gidden had previously appealed against the conviction at Grimsby Crown Court and Scunthorpe Magistrates' Court.

The High Court quashed his conviction and set aside fines and legal costs totalling £680. They also wiped three penalty points from his licence.

His legal fees of £8,000 will be paid for from public funds.

"In a way this is a matter of principle", Mr Gidden said.

"Law enforcers have to work within the law to gain the respect of the general public."

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