Threat of private prosecution embarrasses Met into action

The Metropolitan Police has referred the death of cyclist Michael Mason to the Director of Public Prosecutions ahead of a vigil this evening for the 70-year-old who died a year ago after being hit by a car.

Michael Mason was hit from behind by the driver of a Nissan car on Regent Street on February 25 and died from his injuries on March 14, 2014.

No prosecution was brought against the driver; the Metropolitan Police did not refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), in what the Cyclists' Defence Fund (CDF) said last year was a clear breach of CPS guidelines.

The inquest into Mr Mason's death returned a finding of accidental death. The driver accepted that if the cyclist was there she should have seen him.

Martin Porter QC represented the family at the inquest. On his blog Porter wrote: "Witness evidence and CCTV evidence … left no doubt that no witness aside from the Nissan driver failed to see Mr Mason on his bicycle."

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that a detective inspector from the Met's Roads and Transport policing command took the decision that there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution.

An investigation by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) supported that decision, but after representations from Mr Mason's family and others, the DPS has referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Cyclists' Defence Fund

The CDF has been supporting Mr Mason's family in their fight for the case to be re-examined. The family has said it will consider bringing a private proisecution if no case is brought against the driver.

Rhia Weston, CDF Coordinator told road.cc: "The threat of embarrassment from a private prosecution highlighting the police's failure to act seems to have made the police change their minds about this case.

"Now that the CPS has received the case file, we hope that they decide to prosecute the driver involved and that they choose a dangerous driving charge rather than a lesser charge of careless driving."

Road.cc understands that the CPS will now review the evidence and see whether there is enough evidence for a reasonable chance of conviction and prosecuting would be in the public interest.

As the CPS have received the file, Michael's family will now be entitled to review any unfavourable decision that is made under the Victims' Right to Review scheme.

Vigil and ride

This evening at 5:30 pm campaign group Stop Killing Cyclists will hold a vigil and ride along Regent Street to commemorate Mr Mason/.

The ride will meet by the Keith Park statue on Pall Mall / Waterloo Place.

Speakers will include Michael's daughter, Anna, and Green Party local transport spokesperson Caroline Russell.

Jenny Jones MLA

In February, Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones wrote to Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe requesting the Met review its decision not to recommend prosecution in the case.

Jones expressed concern that the police were relying too much on the need for eyewitness accounts of the crash and not giving enough emphasis to the physical evidence.

She wrote: "The Met Police appear to believe that the considerable physical evidence is inadequate to secure a prosecution, as none of the witnesses interviewed saw the actual collision. The policy implications of this are serious as the Met appears to be over reliant on witness statements."

Michael Mason was easily seen by numerous other witnesses, Jones points out, and had a rear flashing red light and a red rear reflector.

She wrote: "The most worrying aspect of this case is that Mr Mason as an experienced cyclist, was riding well out from the kerb in a highly visible position. 'Taking the road' at pinch points is exactly what Transport for London funded training courses advise cyclists to do. A failure by the Met Police to pursue this case, could send out a message that cyclists who do 'take the road' are not protected by the law if a motorist simply drives over them."

Metropolitan Police

The Metropolitan Police this morning issued this statement:

Following an extensive investigation involving two Senior Investigating officers, a Detective Inspector from the Met's Roads and Transport policing command took the decision that there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution.

The case was therefore not referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but was instead referred to the legal processes of the Coroner's Court.

An inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court recorded a verdict of death by road traffic accident.

Legal representatives of the family of Mr Mason have written to the Met Police to challenge the decision not to refer the matter to the CPS, prompting an investigation by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

The DPS supported the Detective Inspector's original decision, but have referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.