A Queen’s Counsel who is also a keen cyclist is fighting a frustrating battle to have the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Metropolitan Police take action against a driver who threatened to kill him, despite having video footage of the incident.
Martin Porter QC posted footage recorded on his helmet-cam to YouTube (see below) and wrote about what had happened on his blog, The Cycling Silk, the same day the incident happened, Thursday 4 November.
Porter, who has also experienced difficulties in getting the police to respond to incidents reported by him on its Roadsafe website, comprehensively relates the problems he encountered trying to report last week’s incident, which took place in West London, on his blog.
When he contacted the police to try and report the incident, he was told that he needed to visit a police station in person to complete a form. But when he did so, he was initially told he could not report the matter since no-one had been injured.
After stating that he had been told to report to a police station by the Metropolitan Police itself and that he had video evidence, the officer concerned agreed to make a report, but refused to accept the CD with footage of the incident.
On his blog, Porter relates how the officer who recorded it as a “public order offence” asked seemingly irrelevant questions such as whether he was wearing a fluorescent jacket or dressed in Lycra, and erroneously informed him that video evidence was inadmissible if he wasn’t licensed to copy video, saying it would be thrown out of court.
Eventually, after repeated requests to the police, an officer at Chiswick Police Station investigated the incident, but yesterday Porter reported on his blog that no further action was being taken since the police and CPS, who by now had reviewed the footage, believed there was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
Porter, who has worked as a barrister for almost 25 years, becoming a Queen’s Counsel in 2006, and is also club secretary of Maidenhead-based Thames Velo, has now written to the CPS official concerned, requesting that the matter be referred to a Senior Crown Prosecutor.
In his letter, the text of which is repeated in his latest blog entry, he puts forward a compelling legal argument as to why he believes that the video provides sufficient evidence to secure a conviction, and that he “can think of no possible informed basis upon which anybody could doubt the admissibility of that evidence.”
The lawyer, who is a regular user of this website, told road.cc: "The evidence that a crime was committed is compelling. The problem may be that the threat is just not treated seriously because the offence was committed in a car and the complaint is from a cyclist.
"We live in a car culture where the misdeeds of motorists are met with a benign
indulgence. Imagine if the threat had been made on the street when the suspect had some other means at his disposal to carry out his threat. I am disappointed that, as so often, aggression and bad driving around cyclists is not being taken as seriously as it should."
Clearly, the issue is far from resolved and we’ll bring you further updates as and when we have them.
In the meantime, perhaps the most worrying aspect of the episode from a cyclist’s point of view is that if a senior lawyer with a quarter of a century’s experience at the bar has this much trouble getting the police and CPS to treat an incident seriously, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.