I have to declare an interest before I start. I am a Birmingham City fan and a big fan of their ex manager Chris Hughton.
In a sport full of unsavoury characters with seemingly very little morals Chris Hughton has the respect of all in the game.
I was surprised to see him on trial in Solihull Magistrates Court yesterday.
He was charged with failing to disclose drivers details. The procedure for this is that when a vehicle is caught speeding the registered keeper is sent a notice of intended prosecution.
At this stage there is no evidence of who was driving, simply that a car bearing that number plate activated a speed camera.
In order to prosecute someone the police need to know who was driving the car. Hence the notice of intended prosecution and the request for drivers details. These are technically 2 different forms but are often combined in the same notice.
I came into court late whilst waiting for my case to get on so I do not know all of the facts. These are what I have been able to glean. I am pretty certain of them but apologies if anything is incorrect.
It appears that Chris wasn’t the registered keeper of the car (I would have been surprised if he was). It was probably a company car on lease from a finance company.
The request for drivers details goes to the registered keeper (probably the finance company) they then have to return the form saying who was driving. They will nominate the company (Birmingham City FC) who will then be sent a similar form. There is a 14 day time limit to serve this notice. The purpose of this is to allow drivers the chance to remember who was driving. The first notice has to be sent within 14 days. As long as the Registered Keeper gets it within 14 days the time limit has been complied with.
No doubt the Company secretary at Birmingham City will have received the notice and request, checked the records and nominated Chris Hughton. They cannot send the form to him, it has to go back to the police again who will again issue a further request. This time to Chris Hughton. By now a couple of months may have passed. Bear in mind the chain is – Police to Registered Keeper, registered keeper back to police, police to BCFC, BCFC to police, police to Chris Hughton.
Now some months later Chris Hughton is being asked who was driving the car on that day. It appears he made enquiries and discovered that he was away in Barnsley that day, it was a Tuesday night and we won 3-1 😉 So he knows it was not him, he went on the club coach. The car was at home. It appears at court he gave evidence to say that 5 people regularly drive that car but he was unable to say who was driving it that day.
The duty to disclose differs depending upon whether you are the registered keeper or a nominated person. As a nominated person Chris Hughton had to “give any information which it is in his power to give and may lead to identification of the driver.”
He no doubt asked everyone whether they were driving and no one could remember. I understand that he was in constant contact with the police and told them that he was not able to name the driver.
He was prosecuted and convicted. The Magistrates said that they believed everything he said but that he did not give all the information that was within his power. Simply put, he did not name everyone who may have been driving. If he had given the police the names of all those who may have been driving he would probably have been acquitted.
As it was he was left carrying the can for something that wasn’t his fault. He got 6 points instead of the 3 the driver would have got and a £1000 fine plus £600 costs.
If he had asked for my advice in the beginning I would have advised him to list all the people who it might have been.
It does beggar the question, when he wrote to the police saying “it definitely wasn’t me but I don’t know who it was” why the police didn’t advise him to name all possible drivers?