Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 17:59 UK

Footballer 'needed loo on M-way'

Steve Claridge
Steve Claridge was "desperate" for the toilet, the court heard

Former footballer Steve Claridge drove at about 100mph in wet conditions because he was desperate for the toilet, a court has heard.

The 42-year-old, of Fareham, Hampshire, appeared at Coventry Crown Court where he denied dangerous driving.

The jury was told he had been caught speeding on the M42 near Solihull, West Midlands, on 30 December 2006.

The court heard that when Mr Claridge was arrested he told police: "I was desperate for the toilet."

Mr Claridge, who works as a football pundit on BBC Five Live, has previously played for Portsmouth, Birmingham City and Leicester City as well as several other professional clubs.

'Like a child'

The court heard an unmarked police car had pulled him over after he had repeatedly undertaken other vehicles.

Pc Keith Dyson, who arrested him, said: "As I started speaking to him he started jumping up and down on the hard shoulder, holding his crotch and acting like a child who is desperate to go to the toilet.

He added: "He continued to jump up and down in what I deemed to be an embarrassing action."

The officer said he had told Mr Claridge he could not urinate at the side of the road because of the high volume of traffic, but later relented, allowing him to go down a grass embankment.

His colleague Pc Geoff Bell said he had noticed Mr Claridge in his rear view mirror coming up behind him in his silver Peugeot 307.

He told the court: "He would have been travelling at approximately 100mph in order to catch up with us quite quickly."

'Wasn't dangerous'

Nigel Wilkins, prosecuting, said Mr Claridge had repeatedly switched lanes and caused other drivers to "brake sharply in order to let him in".

Mr Claridge admitted undertaking two cars but denied driving dangerously, telling the court: "It certainly wasn't dangerous. It wasn't the best bit of driving I have ever done but it wasn't dangerous."

He said he had been driving at no more than 75mph, adding he was trying to leave the motorway to either find a service station or use the hard shoulder.

He said he had drunk about five or six small bottles of water earlier.

"My intention was to actually get off because I wanted to go to the toilet."

The former footballer said he had been on a one-month contract with Bournemouth FC at the time and had been driving home from Blackpool where he had been on a scouting trip.

The trial continues.


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