Belfast Telegraph

Coogan cleared over driving charge

Steve Coogan was found not guilty of a driving offence today after it emerged a friend was behind the wheel of his car when it was caught speeding.

The 46-year-old comic told a court it had "slipped my mind" that his friend was driving the Range Rover when it was flashed doing 39mph in a 30mph zone.

Brighton Magistrates' Court heard he was busy with TV and film work at the time as well as involved in suing News International and preparing for the Leveson Inquiry.

The Range Rover was caught speeding on the A259 at Kingsway in Hove, East Sussex, just before 11.30am on October 12 last year.

Coogan, famed for his alter ego Alan Partridge, told magistrates that he loaned vehicles out to friends, family and colleagues on a pool basis, and could not remember who he had loaned the Range Rover to until months later.

The comedian said that at the time of the speeding offence he was on the telephone to the Guardian dictating an article and later made stringent efforts to find out who was the driver.

Prosecutors dropped the speeding charge against him and magistrates cleared him of failing to notify police about who was driving after saying the case against him had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The court was told Coogan was posted a letter informing him about the speeding offence in November, and he wrote back days later asking for photographic evidence.

Coogan said he contacted "the usual suspects" who regularly borrowed his cars but drew a blank when all came back saying they hadn't been driving the Range Rover at the time.

Months later, after a court summons, it was recalled that his friend Jodie Bayly had been driving it, and Coogan said the matter was immediately referred to the authorities.

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