Banking heiress Kate Rothschild has been banned from driving for six months after a cyclist spotted her using a phone behind the wheel after her car had stalled.
The music producer and scion of the famous Rothschild banking dynasty was reported to the police after cyclist Beatrice Goater passed her using her phone while sat in the driver’s seat of her Audi Q7 SUV in Fulham, west London, the Evening Standard reports.
The 41-year-old, who was prosecuted for the offence as she already had racked up too may points on her licence to receive a Fixed Penalty Notice, told Lavender Hill magistrates last week that she was checking the notes app on her phone after her vehicle’s ghost immobiliser had kicked in, stalling her car.
She admitted the offence but asked the court to consider sparing her a driving ban, claiming that she needs her car for emergencies due to the “very remote” location of her countryside cottage.
The magistrates rejected the mother-of-three’s plea, however, and handed her six penalty points which, added to her previous tally, saw her landed with an automatic six-month driving disqualification. She was also fined £450 and ordered to pay a further £280 in courts costs and fees.
Speaking to the court, cyclist Goater explained that she was riding on New King’s Road in Fulham on 30 August 2022 when she noticed a motorist with “strawberry blonde hair” using her mobile phone.
“I am cycling and I pass the vehicle”, she said. “I notice the driver on her phone and I ask her to stop using her phone. She pays no attention to my request.”
In a letter to the court explaining the situation ahead of last week’s hearing, Rothschild claimed that her car “had cut out and the ghost immobiliser had kicked in stalling my car.”
She continued: “My partner had recently changed the code after having two cars stolen and the new code was written in the notes section which I was checking.
“I am, of course, aware that I have done wrong and that I have previous points on my licence. However, I just hope that you can and you will take this all into consideration.”
The heiress also told the court that it would be “really unsafe” for her to be banned from driving, as she mainly resides in a “very remote” cottage in Wiltshire, despite also having a home in Fulham.
“Taxis will often refuse to go up the track and emergency vehicles will not necessarily find it so not having a driver’s licence is really unsafe as my partner is often away and I have two teenage sons and a two-year-old baby boy”, she said.
“The thought of being at home with my sons and not being able to get them to a hospital should the need arise terrifies me.”
Rothschild is the second notable name in the space of a week to be found guilty of using a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a car in London.
At the weekend we reported that Jimmy Mulville, the co-founder of Hat Trick Productions, the company behind hit TV programmes such as Have I Got News For You, Father Ted, Derry Girls, and Room 101, was spotted using his phone by road safety campaigner and YouTuber CyclingMikey, real name Mike van Erp, while driving in traffic over Battersea Bridge last July.
According to Van Erp, after being confronted over his phone use, Mulville “flipped the bird” and shouted at the cyclist “go f*** yourself”.
Mulville, who was previously banned from driving in 2020 and handed another three points last October for speeding, was prosecuted for driving while using his mobile phone after not paying a Fixed Penalty fine.
At City of London magistrates court last week, the 68-year-old comedian, who belatedly admitted to using his phone to check a text, was handed six points on his licence and ordered to pay £1,000 fine, plus £625 in costs and a £400 court fee.
Noted camera cyclist Van Erp, whose widespread reporting of law-breaking motorists has also led to the successful prosecutions of Guy Ritchie and Chris Eubank, thanked Beatrice Goater on Twitter for reporting Rothschild for her phone use.
“Camera cyclists are everywhere, and you’ll never know when one of us might pitch up next to you,” he wrote. “Another driver bites the dust for driving badly.”
In January, speaking to road.cc, Mikey said “people need to see justice being done” and that any abuse he receives is simply because some motorists “feel they have the right to drive how they want”.
“In the beginning of my camera work, almost 17 years ago, I took a lot of strain at the abuse thrown my way,” he said. “I’d answer each comment seriously. Nowadays, there has been such a torrent of abuse and lies about me that I just let most of it wash off me.
“In the UK cyclists are considered by society to be ‘cockroaches of the road’, unworthy scum who freeload on the public highway and are terrible lawbreakers. For such a person to challenge a driver for lawbreaking is a massive affront to the social order, and people don’t like this.
“Many of those throwing abuse also feel that they have the right to drive how they want, and that nobody can tell them what to do. They see the prosecutions, and they are afraid of the consequences, and they are angry that someone dares to do this to them.”
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.