CTC, the national cycling charity, has reacted strongly to the news that a Merseyside police officer has been given a written warning for deciding not to prosecute a man who hit a cyclist while driving on the wrong side of the road. Road safety campaigner, Rhia Favero, has described the decision as ‘accusing a victim for their own death’.
In October 2010, Ali Farahani drove 60m on the wrong side of the road and hit 42-year-old Daniel Ayers on Liverpool’s Prescot Road in a manoeuvre that witnesses variously described as being “reckless”, “irresponsible” and “crazy”.
Although Farahani was eventually jailed for 10 months for dangerous driving, he was initially released without charge by PC Simon Lewis. The evidence was only reviewed when Ayers later died in hospital, having been admitted with fractures to his arm and knee and a piece of bone on his spine.
An inquest ruled that the immediate cause of Ayers’ death was a pre-existing condition connected to alcohol dependency, but his sister, Georgina Moore, complained that Lewis had failed to conduct a full and proper investigation. She also alleged that he was “discriminatory” because her brother was drunk at time of the accident.
Lewis was found to have carried out a substandard investigation and was given a written warning. A High Court judge has since ordered a fresh investigation over the discrimination charge as well.
CTC’s Rhia Favero says that while the story is shocking, it comes as no surprise.
“Although I am shocked that a police officer can accuse a victim for their own death when the facts of the case clearly show the driver that hit them was the culprit, this is not the first time this has happened. Nor is it the first time the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) have had to intervene to ensure disciplinary action is taken against an officer.
“CTC's Road Justice campaign has seen these examples of police bias against cyclists happen across the country, from Kent to Leicester to London. The Cyclists' Defence Fund is now having to carry out a private prosecution of a driver who killed a cyclist because the police chose not to prosecute based on quick prejudicial decisions about who was at fault.”
In February 2014, Michael Mason was hit from behind by the driver of a Nissan car on Regent Street and later died from his injuries. No prosecution was brought against the driver and the Cyclists’ Defence Fund said the Metropolitan Police’s decision not to refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was a clear breach of CPS guidelines.
In March, the Metropolitan Police said it had referred Mason’s death to the Director of Public Prosecutions, but five days later admitted this was not the case, saying: “We have previously stated that the below matter was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This is incorrect. No referral has been made.”
Mason’s daughter said she felt ‘let down’ by the Met, while the family’s lawyer, Martin Porter QC, said the way they had been treated was "incomprehensibly callous". There are now plans for a private prosecution which will be brought with the help of the Cyclists’ Defence Fund.