Wanker Of The Week?

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 26/09/2006 - 16:16

A Mr Idris Francis is up in the European Court today, trying to get out of a fine for speeding, having lost his case in the High Court back in 2004. He reckons that because he was punished for refusing to tell the police who was driving the car, his 'right to not incriminate himself' was breached. There is a similar case in the Court by a motorist challening the legality of higher fines for people who contest their speeding fine.

It is certainly arguable that higher fines for arguing your case - or pressure to sign off a 'confession' on the spot to avoid a higher fine - are wrong and should be illegal. The authorities tend to present it as a discounted fine if you pay up quickly, but in effect, it is a disincentive to putting your side of the story and an obstacle to justice being done. Being money-based, it is also a greater disincentive to poorer people.

But that doesn't include our Mr Francis, oh no. It was "one of his cars" that was caught speeding, and there he was on BBC News today, leaning out of the window of his big, posh car, sounding for all the world like he longed for the golden age of the road where posh blokes like him could drive as fast as they like. But what really got me is that he seemed completely unashamed of the fact that he was doing 47mph in a 30mph zone. Call me authoritarian if you like, but speed limits exist for a reason, and you could have bloody killed someone.

His case is championed by SafeSpeed, oddly-named for an organisation that campaigns against speed cameras. It makes out that poor, innocent, speeding motorists are unfortunate victims of unjust persecution by Big Brother. There may be a case that some speed limits in some areas are unreasonably low, or that there may be mitigating factors for some drivers, but it seems inescapably true that this group is campaigning for the right to drive as fast as you damn well like.

Perhaps it's a tad unfair to award Mr Francis the accolade of 'Wanker of the Week', since there is such a large collection of them gathered in Manchester at the moment, but SafeSpeed's 'cause' is not one that I'll be backing in a hurry.

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