Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Balls faces threat of lost licence

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said he will accept his punishment for failing to stop after driving into another car

Ed Balls faces the threat of losing his driving licence after confirming he will not fight prosecution for failing to stop after bumping another car.

The shadow chancellor expects to be charged after the incident in Morley, West Yorkshire, last month - although police have yet to take a final decision.

The Labour MP - who has had a series of high profile motoring offences - could have to make an humiliating appearance before magistrates even if he pleads guilty.

Writing on his blog, Mr Balls reiterated that he was unaware he had damaged the other vehicle, although he knew they had touched as he attempted a "tight" manoeuvre in a private drive.

"Another car was parked close by and I was aware the two bumpers touched. But I had no idea any damage had been done until the police got in touch a week later," he wrote.

"As soon as I was aware any damage had been done, I immediately took full responsibility for any damage caused. I've been in touch with the owner to apologise for the inconvenience and to pay for the repair to the marks on the parked car's bodywork.

"The police have to do their job. Once I'd confirmed I knew the bumpers had touched, their standard approach is to proceed to charge as they expect people to stop and check.

"I fully understand and accept that, so of course I will be accepting the charge.

"While I had no knowledge at the time that any damage had occurred, I accept their view that I should have checked.

"Getting points on my licence will be a blow - but that's the way it works."

The offence of failing to stop after an accident can mean five to 10 penalty points, driving disqualification, a fine of up to £5,000 or, in the most serious cases, a jail sentence of up to six months.

Mr Balls is understood to have three points on his licence currently - and will be in line for a ban if he ends up with 12 or more.

Last year the Morley and Outwood MP was given three points for driving through a red light on the Embankment in central London.

He was also caught speeding in West Yorkshire, for which he paid a fine and attended a speed awareness course rather than accept penalty points.

In 2010 Mr Balls said he had behaved "stupidly" after being caught talking on his mobile phone while driving - although the points he received on that occasion should have lapsed.

Sergeant Adrian Wright, of West Yorkshire Police eastern area roads policing unit, said: "Our investigation into a fail to stop collision on Commercial Street, Morley, on Saturday, April 5, is continuing.

"No-one has been summonsed for any offences at this time."

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