Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson fined for using mobile while driving

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson takes a seat in one of the supercars on show at the Ards Festival of Speed in Newtownards
Sammy Wilson at Ulster Wildlife Trust event

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has been fined for driving while using a hand-held mobile telephone.

The 59-year-old DUP Assembly Member and East Antrim MP was not present during the hearing at Ards Magistrates Court yesterday and was unrepresented by a solicitor.

Residing district judge Mark Hamill fined Mr Wilson £200 and imposed three penalty points on his licence for the offence, which took place at 8.50pm at High Street, Newtownards, on April 30 this year.

The court heard that the PSNI, during routine patrols, had seen the politician in his vehicle with a mobile phone up to his right ear as he drove. Officers followed and stopped Mr Wilson, who initially admitted using the mobile, but on speaker phone.

Prosecution counsel said he had a relevant record, with three points on his licence having recently expired.

It’s not Mr Wilson’s first brush with the traffic laws. The keen biker, who has several motorcycles, was caught with no tax or MOT riding one of his bikes on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast near Stormont in 2008.

The MP was taking his motorbike to a garage to have it serviced for an MOT test four days later.

Mr Wilson was fined £40 for the offence and ordered to pay back tax.

What made his predicament even more embarrassing was that he was Environment Minister at the time, with his department responsible for enforcing the tax and MOT rules and road safety.

He later called for a review of the law, saying: “I suspect there are a lot of people who take their cars which are neither taxed nor MOT’d to go and get them checked before an MOT so they don't fail. Probably they don't know they are breaking the law, I certainly did not know I was breaking the law.”

He added: “I still think the interpretation of the law, in the eyes of most people, would seem to be absurd.

“This was not an oversight by me. I genuinely believed that it was perfectly legitimate for me to drive the bike to get it fixed for MOT.”

Mr Wilson was unavailable for comment last night.

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