Cycling barrister captures death threat on video… insufficient evidence say Met & CPS + video

So, what does it take to get police and prosecuters to take threats and intimidation seriously?

by Simon_MacMichael   November 12, 2010  

Metropolitan Police.jpg

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?
 

37 user comments

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I am aware of the roadsafe website contributing once to a satisfactory conclusion regarding a driving incident.

http://www.lcc.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=1773

However most of the time it appears to be an utterly futile exercise reporting bad and dangerous drivers.

It appears the police have very little interest in pursuing such matters.

posted by dancing james [7 posts]
12th November 2010 - 23:25

7 Likes

I've had similar experiences of incompetence from plod when I've reported incidents. It really is amazing how many officers just don't seem to exhibit a satisfactory knowledge of the law they are supposed to uphold and yet how keen they are to spout their favourite "Ignorance is no excuse" line. Pretty galling as it's our money which is being used not only to support this seemingly increasing level of disinterest in prosecuting but also to prop up their increasingly fat pension fund! No wonder, then, that public levels of respect for the Police must be at an all time low.

TiNuts's picture

posted by TiNuts [95 posts]
13th November 2010 - 6:38

9 Likes

We need plain clothes police to ride around on bikes as a deterrent. Currently, all police cyclists do so in uniform. Obviously, no motorist is going to threaten a copper in uniform. But if they didn't know which cyclists were police, they might think twice about throwing abuse like that.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
13th November 2010 - 8:56

8 Likes

The contrast between this case and the recent furore over Paul Chambers tweet about Robin Hood airport is quite amazing.As IHPhoto says if the CPS can take what was obviously meant as a jokey message on Twitter as evidence and prosecute and then the completely barmy judiciary convict and then compound the original lunacy by throwing out the appeal and trebling the orginal fine http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8130376/I-am-Spartacus-goe... while failing to do anything about someone caught on video making a threat while at the wheel of a potentially deadly piece of machinery only goes to underline the fact that in this country the law really is frequently an ass.

Also worth noting that the £1000 fine imposed for the "menacing" tweet, let alone the £3000 one, is more than the sentence often handed out for killing a cyclist.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
13th November 2010 - 11:16

10 Likes

I've recently experienced exactly the sort of abuse and threats that Cycling Silk has recorded, but have ignored them as I didn't want to waste my day at the Police Station filling in forms with the inevitable result that nothing that would have been done, or had I taken direct action, I'd be the one who'd get prosecuted. Let's hope Cycling Silk gets to nail the oh-so-brave shaven headed yob and the rest of us get to plaster his image and conviction all over the web before this sort of attack becomes some sort of accepted chav sport.

posted by westfour [41 posts]
13th November 2010 - 16:33

6 Likes

Clearly the police had been told to avoid logging crimes whenever possible as a political means of making the crime figures look better. The car driver was in possession of an offensive weapon at the time he made his threat, ie his car, so he had the means at his immediate disposal to carry out that threat.

ChrisS

posted by Chris S [44 posts]
13th November 2010 - 17:34

7 Likes

Plod, as the Police Service is so often referred to are only too aware of the pointless exercise of preparing a case for prosecution only to find that a smug,overpaid QC "puts forward a compelling legal argument" which persuades a Jury that the driver was the victim and the cyclist should have been wearing bright clothing and a helmet.....oh and there was no authorisation to film the poor driver which makes it an infringement on his human rights and should be compensated.
Sympathy to the victim in this case but a lesson in life next time you are in full defence mode.....there are always victims.... Loser

Bud

posted by BUD [33 posts]
13th November 2010 - 23:09

5 Likes

BUD wrote:
oh and there was no authorisation to film the poor driver which makes it an infringement on his human rights and should be compensated.

In the vast majority of cases you don't need permission to film or photograph someone in a public place in the UK. Unfortunately, this again is an area of law that seems to be poorly understood by many police officers (and members of the public), despite the Met, for example, making the issue crystal clear on its website.

http://www.met.police.uk/about/photography.htm

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8498 posts]
14th November 2010 - 8:28

5 Likes

Here's one for you all. 2 years ago I was taking my riding with my son home from school on our bikes. He was 7 and had just learnt how to ride. We were riding very safely and considerately when a Panda car pull up as we turned from our main road in to the an off road. Out jumped two police officers. My son rode off back home while these two impersonations of Jim Henson creations told me to stop. They said my son and my self should not be cycling on the pavement. I pointed out that cars were able to drive on the pavement otherwise how did they manage to mount the pavement behind us and that the road was busy fast and dangerous at that moment a BMW floored it out of our village and I also mentioned that a 7 year old is not allowed to ride on the road and that he was allowed to ride on the pavement providing like any other user of the pavement was not causing problems for other users. At that moment a person how we had passed commented how well and polite we had been. The muppets asked him to move on and said it was nothing to do with him. The policey men then said that the points `I had raised was nothing to with them and that if they found me or my son riding on the pavement I would be arrested. I then told them that they could shove it and that it would be best to arrest me now. Then second Panda car turned up. Don't take that attitude with me they said. Well I will because I am not going to allow my son to end up on a slab just for you two idiots saying my son should ride on the road. If there is an accident we will then investigate it. Oh great I said an accident caused by you. A child dead because you forced him on to the road. Nothing to do with us they repeated and if you continue to be rude and abusive them we will arrest you. great I said walking to the car 'lets go' "i will like to see how you explain provoking a member of the public by saying his son has to die' You know what it is amazing how they quickly backed down. After some other don't this again rhetoric and me saying I will continue to ride this way politely and on the pavement with my son. Subsequent to this they turned up at my door a day or so later saying that they would not be pressing charges. Lovely I said I will be complaining about this. Also it seems the Met police have a bike diversion whom I meet at the recent cycle show who said these guys were absolutely wrong in there assertions and I was right to stand my ground. The police do not have the right to make up the law as they see fit and they do all the time and they wonder why they have no respect from the general population.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
14th November 2010 - 9:01

10 Likes

Human Rights, authorisation to film etc. Check out this article from Photography Monthly Issue 112 September 2010. Also check out the Met Police service guidelines. the public does not need a permit to photography in public places providing they are not harassing or causing a hazard but that is a different reason to actually recording and image and the police has no right to stop them filming incidents or police personnel. Section 43, 44 and 58b of terrorism act 2000 again shows that officer need due cause can't delete images except for court order, they can view images with due cause not for any other reason. They can seize if they have due cause but can't delete images only if there is a court order but they need strong evidence according to this article. Also it is interesting to note that there is no right to privacy in public in the UK. Its an interesting article.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
14th November 2010 - 9:19

4 Likes

@Ciaran Patrick. Good for you! Your story made my heart thump.

Interested to hear that 7 year olds are not allowed to cycle on the road but are allowed to cycle on the pavement, and you with him.

posted by robmcsween [7 posts]
14th November 2010 - 14:35

8 Likes

As a cyclist I have no faith whatsoever in the police.

I was left for dead in a hit in run a couple of years back.

It took a complaint to the divisional commander to get any kind of investigation and even then it was totally half hearted.

The police have no concern for protecting cyclists from the menace of car drivers.

posted by gazzaputt [185 posts]
14th November 2010 - 15:33

6 Likes

This driver presents a recurrent threat, not only to the barrister concerned but also to other cyclists and other road users in general and should be removed from the road.

tommy2p

posted by tommy2p [85 posts]
14th November 2010 - 20:48

10 Likes

Driving on motorways in the UK you see signs with "Do not Drive Tired" usually just before a "Service Area"!
when tired you pull in and have a rest regardless of the hour if you are a "Sensible Driver"! When you fall asleep you do not consider setting an alarm and you rarely sleep long with the constant noise around the vehicles.
Oh did you know you are only allowed to park up for 2 hours or you have to make arrangements to pay before you consider sleeping?

The point i am trying to make is that there are no "Laws in the UK" , it is a free for all where "ALL" in some form of Authority impose on the rest of US any interpretation they choose of the "Legal precedents that exist in the statute books.

In this article there are "Clear and Compelling Facts" that the "Silk/QC " had a grudge against the car driver, he went out on his bike seeking to make an example of "Joe Public" so that he could waste Police Time & Resources!

Does anyone in their "Right Mind" believe that the video was "Doctored" in any way?

Fact is there are "Anti Social Individuals" who do not deserve to have a driving license let alone be considered as members of the human race. When a Driver straps themselves into a vehicle they are exercising a priveledge NOT A RIGHT and it is beholden on them to conform to the "Existing Road Codes regardless of Country that they are travelling through", certainly "ignorance of the law" is no excuse !

Fact is when you arrive at a Port there ar "BUY Notices" to acquaint you with requirements of Continental laws, of course they want to sell you something ! This is the reason they remind you of facts you should have already checked, who leaves home on a long journey without the necessary requirements of completing the journey.

Adults riding the pavement with their children are a "Fact of Life" and i cannot imagine that any adult is teaching their child "Anti Social Habits"!

Police clad in Lycra are long overdue but then i have had the pleasure to ride with the "Captain of the TDF Presidential Gendarmerie Escort team " and some of his colleagues, Eric like some of his colleagues from other nations "bends the rules " like the rest us mortals !

Better surveillance by "Lycra Clad Officers of the LAW" will deter "Foul Mouthed Blue car drivers" and equipped with a mobile phone can "Stop,investigate & if necessary prosecute "Ner do wells" !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [392 posts]
15th November 2010 - 9:48

5 Likes

Not admissable as evidence! The guy ADMITTED to threatening to kill him! Not just evil but very, very stupid!

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [62 posts]
17th November 2010 - 18:33

7 Likes

Hello everybody, i am the man in the car who 'threatened to kill' Mr Porter. Right, first off, the car is not mine, so the person now driving it has nothing to do with this incident. Ok, if you watch the video from the begining, you see that Mr Porter moves into the middle of the lane on the road, in doing so he pulled out in front of me when i was doing a touch over 30, the speed limit. If i hadn't of reacted as i did, i would of knocked him off his bike and probably killed him. I was going to overtake him because a traffic island was approaching and i didn't want to make it dangerously tight, i did nothing wrong, i didn't boot it, i was just going to cruise past him. As i did so, he pulled out like you see. The first time i pulled along side him, i was saying ''you can give it all the arm signals and tell me i'm wrong, but i'm driving a car and you're on a push bike, if i had hit you, you definately would of come off and i would of killed you''. Then Mr Porter conveniently edits his video, cutting out another mile or so of the journey in which he passes me twice at traffic lights, on the first occasion calling me a 'w**ker', the second a 'dangerous chav'. Totally uncalled for as i was trying to forget about the incident and was just minding my own business at the junction. As the footage continues, he had been in front of me for a good half mile, in rush hour traffic, doing 15 mph when the limit is 30, steering in front of me, tempting fate. if i had of been such a thug, i would of knocked him down there and then, becuase he was doing what he shouldn't be doing. who rides infront of moving cars? the oncoming traffic cleared so i then had a chance to go past him, at which point i said ''mate, you're taking the piss now, you're driving like a c**t and if you keep riding like that, someone's going to kill you''. yes ok i swore, but who wouldn't be right now when you've nearly hit a cyclist twice due to his reckless riding? At the lights at the end of the clip, yes i did 'admit' to 'threatening to kill' him, but just to shut the guy up, he was a total idiot and i NEVER threatened to kill him. People need to ask, why would i be tooting or swearing? It wouldn't be for no reason would it? I was provoked! Also, when i turn left, i have no need to indicate as it's a left only lane. i have NEVER had any issuse with cyclists and is it any wonder this guy has a camera attached to his head? or that he has had so many bad experiences? maybe it's a case of him delibaretly pushing the boundaries and getting peoples backs up? because nobody i know who rides to and from work on the same route has ever had any issue with any driver. the guy is a moron and should stop trying to provoke drivers and then record their reactions. Yes, there are many idiots on the road, dangerous drivers who cause many problems, but, i am not one of them and this guy is clearly a car driver hater who was trying to get me in trouble with the law when he was equally if not more so at fault than me.

posted by innocent_and_pr... [1 posts]
28th February 2011 - 17:43

8 Likes

You go marti...you will get them in the end. We had a old man driving past us on sunday just hooting and shaking his fist as us because we as cyclists should not be on the road. I am in the same club as martin and we do tell him about all our incidents to. There are many people that don't mind sharing the roads with cyclists but then you get the minority that are selfish in their outlook towards life in general that believe everybody else around them are in their way. The problem is that they have a weapon...a car.

For the best sport socks around visit
www.moose.eu/en

Your feet will be glad you did!

koosiegreen's picture

posted by koosiegreen [46 posts]
1st March 2011 - 11:38

4 Likes

Well, I think it's fair to say that this is one that deserves to go to court: if Mr Porter is in the wrong (and he's apparently submitted the video in its entirety), then that will come out.

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
1st March 2011 - 11:48

6 Likes

innocent_and_proven_so _by_police wrote:
Hello everybody, i am the man in the car who 'threatened to kill' Mr Porter. Right, first off, the car is not mine, so the person now driving it has nothing to do with this incident. Ok, if you watch the video from the begining, you see that Mr Porter moves into the middle of the lane on the road, in doing so he pulled out in front of me when i was doing a touch over 30, the speed limit. If i hadn't of reacted as i did, i would of knocked him off his bike and probably killed him. I was going to overtake him because a traffic island was approaching and i didn't want to make it dangerously tight, i did nothing wrong, i didn't boot it, i was just going to cruise past him. As i did so, he pulled out like you see. The first time i pulled along side him, i was saying ''you can give it all the arm signals and tell me i'm wrong, but i'm driving a car and you're on a push bike, if i had hit you, you definately would of come off and i would of killed you''. Then Mr Porter conveniently edits his video, cutting out another mile or so of the journey in which he passes me twice at traffic lights, on the first occasion calling me a 'w**ker', the second a 'dangerous chav'. Totally uncalled for as i was trying to forget about the incident and was just minding my own business at the junction. As the footage continues, he had been in front of me for a good half mile, in rush hour traffic, doing 15 mph when the limit is 30, steering in front of me, tempting fate. if i had of been such a thug, i would of knocked him down there and then, becuase he was doing what he shouldn't be doing. who rides infront of moving cars? the oncoming traffic cleared so i then had a chance to go past him, at which point i said ''mate, you're taking the piss now, you're driving like a c**t and if you keep riding like that, someone's going to kill you''. yes ok i swore, but who wouldn't be right now when you've nearly hit a cyclist twice due to his reckless riding? At the lights at the end of the clip, yes i did 'admit' to 'threatening to kill' him, but just to shut the guy up, he was a total idiot and i NEVER threatened to kill him. People need to ask, why would i be tooting or swearing? It wouldn't be for no reason would it? I was provoked! Also, when i turn left, i have no need to indicate as it's a left only lane. i have NEVER had any issuse with cyclists and is it any wonder this guy has a camera attached to his head? or that he has had so many bad experiences? maybe it's a case of him delibaretly pushing the boundaries and getting peoples backs up? because nobody i know who rides to and from work on the same route has ever had any issue with any driver. the guy is a moron and should stop trying to provoke drivers and then record their reactions. Yes, there are many idiots on the road, dangerous drivers who cause many problems, but, i am not one of them and this guy is clearly a car driver hater who was trying to get me in trouble with the law when he was equally if not more so at fault than me.

turns out this probably is the real driver (certain aspects of his account tally with information Martin has given us) - one of his issues with the editied vid is that it doesn't tell the whole story. so, for the record, here is the unedited version.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7502 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 17:16

5 Likes

To use popular internet parlance, "innocent_and_proven_so _by_police" just got totally pwned

posted by mr_colostomy [29 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 21:04

5 Likes

posted by innocent_and_pr... [1 posts]

Yeah, don't think that post count will make it to 2.

Rob

posted by robert.brady [146 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 21:29

5 Likes

he must have said those things under his breath. or maybe he turned the mic off or something Thinking

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7502 posts]
3rd March 2011 - 22:08

12 Likes

innocent_and_proven_so _by_police said:

.... Then Mr Porter conveniently edits his video, cutting out another mile or so of the journey in which he passes me twice at traffic lights, on the first occasion calling me a 'w**ker', the second a 'dangerous chav'....

From the unedited video, this allegation can be seen to be completely false. This would seem entirely at odds with the type of person that Mr Porter undoubtedly is.

Such accusations are of course rather ironic coming from an individual who appears to be describing himself with a considerable degree of accuracy!

posted by Recumbenteer [153 posts]
4th March 2011 - 6:53

6 Likes

innocent_and_proven_so _by_police wrote:
At the lights at the end of the clip, yes i did 'admit' to 'threatening to kill' him, but just to shut the guy up, he was a total idiot and i NEVER threatened to kill him.

Reading this and watching the unedited video, what becomes clear is that it is you who are a "total idiot". It is beyond me as to why you have not been prosecuted for your behavior.

posted by Londonneur [6 posts]
4th March 2011 - 20:27

6 Likes

Copy of the comment left on Cyclingsilk comments :

Obviously the miscreant causing the video to be forwarded to the police & cps doesn't think he needs a lawyer !

" "Need a lawyer? My tips here" post is totally unnecessary when the "police" decide that video evidence in Thames Valley should be disregarded and in Manchester is used as the basis to ask Public Assistance !

Your letter to Theresa May also appears to have been treated with disdain !

More and more it is becoming evident that the Police are "highway robbers" , only available as revenue collectors and unable to assist the Vunerable in the community whether they have been burgled or assaulted or tangled up in a road rage situation .

Touch someone's window or panelwork and you risk going to jail but be the victim of physical or verbal abuse and you become the victim of some money grubbing hooligan !

Voelcker's review should be compulsory reading for the legal profession as well as those members of the Police force who care to do a day's work .

That peasant that replied to roads.cc either is giving us all the finger or the police which is even worse !

Incompetence by those police officers who interviewed him reflects on ALL their colleagues since it is obvious to a child that he has strung together a fiction ! " An adult would be aware that they were being treated with contempt but the interviewing police officers must have been having a "bad hair day" !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [392 posts]
10th March 2011 - 18:58

7 Likes

The trial is Monday week (28th November).

posted by cyclinglawyer [9 posts]
17th November 2011 - 17:30

5 Likes

I see that the miscreant was convicted:

http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/scott-lomas-convicted-and-s...

Astonishing behaviour, I've been driven into deliberately I just had not recorded at the time. I am more and more convinced that I should get a camera.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
27th August 2012 - 21:42

3 Likes

I hope the Cycling Silk won't mind my breaking of his copyright but I thought this point he made in his blog was particularly important:

"Today Lomas was finally convicted, on his plea of guilty, to the Public Order Act offence of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

It transpires Lomas was in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed by the Crown Court in April 2010 following his conviction of a crime of violence, malicious wounding, He was not referred back to the Crown Court for consideration of whether to activate that earlier sentence."

In other words, the miscreant pleaded guilty despite his earlier post on this thread saying that he wasn't. And the person also has previous form for his anti-social behaviour. I think those two points sum up the whole incident. I've also been thinking of getting a camera, especially since the recent incident when a guy in a car began driving closer and closer to the rear of my motorbike in an attempt to scare me.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
28th August 2012 - 8:32

6 Likes

The bit about the suspended sentance not considered just annoys me; what is the point of a suspended sentance?

posted by SideBurn [873 posts]
28th August 2012 - 8:44

4 Likes

My comment has nothing to do with this article but i feel i have to respond to the comment by TiNuts who wrote

"Pretty galling as it's our money which is being used to prop up their increasingly fat pension fund.

I pay into my pension, the sum of £350.00 every 4 weeks multiply that by 13 payments a year for 30 years gives a figure of £136500 i have paid in, no small amount from my own pocket and i was wondering how much you have personally paid into my pension ?????.

The money you pay in council tax goes to the running of the Police forces not our pensions.

On behalf of Officers who do care about their job and the people they serve i apologise to those who feel they dont get a good service.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2845 posts]
31st December 2012 - 11:58

5 Likes