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 Post subject: Reuters, 28th June 2007
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 20:17 
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Speed camera pair await European ruling

Thu Jun 28, 2007 1:47PM BST

By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - Two campaigning motorists who say speed camera laws breach their human rights will learn the result of their appeal to a European court on Friday.

Retired company director Idris Francis and pensioner Gerard O'Halloran argue that current rules force car owners to incriminate themselves.

They say the centuries-old right to silence should allow drivers caught on camera to refuse to confirm to police who was at the wheel.

Campaigners say victory at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg would force a rethink of the laws governing the use of speed cameras.

"I am optimistic that the ECHR will agree that evidence obtained under duress should be inadmissable in motoring law," said Francis, 67, from Hampshire.

The AA said the case was unlikely to end in a "triumphant revolution" for millions of motorists.

"We don't believe for a moment they'll be told to refund all speed cameras (fines) and told they can't use them," said Andrew Howard, the AA's head of road safety.

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed campaign group, which supports the pair's case, said cameras would survive even if the court rules in the pair's favour.

"The most likely response ... is that we'd see speeding offences decriminalised, in the same way that parking offences are," he said. "The owner has responsibility and failure to pay the fine is a civil matter.

He rejected suggestions that new cameras capable of taking high quality pictures of drivers' faces from the front will make the outcome an irrelevance.

"The fact that you've got a photograph that looks like someone is not going to be legal evidence of anything," he said.

"You can't have one photograph, particularly through a car windscreen, representing evidence of identity beyond a reasonable doubt."

The pair took their case to the European court last September with the support of campaign group Liberty.

Francis was caught doing 47 mph in a 30 mph zone in June 2001. He used his legal right to silence and refused to confirm that he was the driver of the vintage Alvius Speed 25 car.

He was convicted and fined 750 pounds with 250 pounds costs and three penalty points.

O'Halloran, from London, was caught on camera driving at 69 mph on a 40 mph stretch of the M11 in April 2000. He received six points and a 100 pounds fine with 150 pounds costs.

The Department for Transport had no comment. It said last year that it would vigorously defend the case. It says the 6,000 fixed cameras cut accidents by more than a fifth and reduce speeding by 70 percent.

Last year, 3,172 people were killed on Britain's roads.

Paul Smith
Our scrap speed cameras petition got over 28,000 sigs
The Safe Speed campaign demands a return to intelligent road safety

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