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New MP gets 6-month driving ban

A new MP who went from law-maker to law-breaker days after getting elected has been banned from driving for six months.

Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour MP for Bolton South East, was spotted using a mobile phone while driving and when stopped by police was also found to have no car insurance, Bolton Magistrates' Court heard.

The former barrister and human rights lawyer had been elected as the town's new MP on May 6 but four days later was caught by police while driving through the town.

Howard Sloane, prosecuting, told the court that around 2.45pm on May 10 a police officer spotted her silver Vauxhall Astra driving along Wigan Road in Bolton. "He could clearly see the driver had a mobile telephone in her right hand and was speaking into it," he told JPs. Ms Qureshi, 47, was stopped and questioned if she had any reason to be using her phone, to which she replied: "No."

Her details were then checked and she was found to have no insurance, Mr Sloane added, as her policy had elapsed on April 9. The insurance policy was then renewed at 4.05pm the day she had been stopped, the court heard.

Mr Sloane said the MP already had nine points on her licence when she was caught. She had a previous offence of using her mobile phone while driving dating from May 25 2008 and two speeding offences, one in 2007 and another last year.

Ajmal Hussain, defending, said the MP had not deliberately avoided paying for insurance.

"The position is, that Ms Qureshi has been insured with this firm since 2003," he said. "It was a roll-on policy that at times was paid in full and other times in instalments. For whatever reason, matters are being looked into by Ms Qureshi, on this occasion the insurance was not renewed, therefore she did not have insurance. Clearly something has gone wrong. As a result of administrative error or whatever it is, she is not insured."

He said Ms Qureshi, who was not in court, could have argued for "exceptional hardship" to try to avoid the ban, because of her job, but wanted to accept the ban and have matters dealt with. "She is going to be inconvenienced a great deal, visiting her constituents at unsociable times, she is going to have to now take taxis and public transport," he said. "It will affect her personal and professional life. She apologises to the court, she clearly regrets what's happened."

Qureshi, of Morton Moss Court in Bolton, was banned from driving for six months, fined £950 for driving with no insurance, £300 for the mobile phone offence and ordered to pay £35 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

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