Sunday, September 16

The Appellant In Person

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From the Editor's own Briefs.

Holding open the gate of the dock the security guard frowned and demanded ''this way''. ''Oh no'' I protested ''I am the Appellant in Person''. Judge John De Walford from his lofty position in court number 9 at the modern yet imposing Teesside Combined Law Courts intervened ''that's fine he commanded Mr Troy should sit on the council benches'' pointing to the end seat at the back row of the lawyers and other proffessional's three benches in front of the Judge. An usher showed me to my seat provided me with a jug of water and a glass.

Relieved that I was not in the dock and thus in a better position to argue my case I placed my carefully prepared papers on the long shiny bench in front of me. Looking round I observed the stern faces of the two Magistrates sitting aloof with the Judge. They looked out of place next to the scarlet robed Crown Court Judge in his horse hair wig and the Crown Prosecution Barrister (an amiable fellow) who I immeadatly nicknamed 'Rumpole'. In the seats normally occupied by the jury sat six Magistrates from Hartlepool who were observing the morning's session. One reporter (a charming young lady) from The Hartlepool Mail sat shorthand notebook at the ready.
The events that led me to the Crown Court to appeal my conviction of not filling in a Notice of Intended Prosecution, known as NIPs (see Revolting Action January 2007) following an alleged speeding offence. I was convicted last month at Hartlepool Magistrates' Court (see From the Dock - July 07).

The proceedings lasted 45 minuets 'Rumpold' addressed the court summarising rather well the situation that was before the Court. The narrow point of my appeal was really quite simple I had in fact given the required information to the Chief Constable not on the innocuous NIP form but in a letter of protest to the Chief Constable. When satisfied that he understood the case the Judge beamed at me: ''Well Mr Troy why did you not fill in the NIP form?''

Well your Honour I thundered: ''It is an Englishman's right to protest.'' I explained that at the time of my letter two very British Gentleman had made an application to the European Court of Human Rights that Section 172 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act which demands that motorists suspected of such heinous crimes as travelling a few miles an hour over the prescribed limit confirm that they were the driver of the vehicle on the date and time stated is contrary to their Human Rights. (British persons who by the way who are suspected of minor offences such are murder, rape theft, arson etc do not have to make such a declaration and are protected by our ancient right of silence).

His Honour asked a number of questions - I read out my letter to the Chief Constable from last January stressing that I objected to filling in the NIP form but nevertheless complied with the adequacy of the Road Traffic Act of 1988. In short I was very mildly protesting at the abolition of the right to silence for British motorists. During the exchange between my self and the Judge the six Magistrates moved their heads from left to right and back again as if watching a tennis match at Wimbledon.

The Judge and the two presiding Magistrates left the Court to deliberate. Taking a line from Alex Guinness in the 1950's Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets I lent forward to 'Rumpole' and remarked that ''I must confess to being a little curious as to the outcome of their deliberations''. Well I know I was not (like the character that Guinness was playing) on trial for my life but the £120 fine and costs imposed by their worships in July - to say nothing of the principle - was worthy of the mighty fight I was putting up. ''Oh'', said 'Rumpold' leaning back '' I think you have the day''

''All stand'' shouted the Usher in as commanding voice as she could muster. The six magistrates from Hartlepool all stood and then sat as if they were one. I remained standing. The Judged glared at 'Rumpold' and in speech that lasted some ten minutes detailed why the case in the lower court should not have been tried that I had in fact satisfied the requirements of the Section 172 Paragraph 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and in tones that could have been set to music confirmed that ''I find for the Appellant''.
Indeed ''I had the day''. Well hurrah for that I thought and very nearly said.
I sat down then immediately rose again the eyes of the six Magistrates - yet again as if one person - fixed upon me. ''I am'' I said ''grateful to your Honour, may I have leave to submit my expenses to the court.'' ''Indeed you may'' added the Crown Court Judge and for the lower court as well, clearly you have been very inconvenienced. Indeed I had. ''Thank you your Honour.'' I took a step to the left - bowed to His Honour and indeed the Royal Crest high on the wall behind him. Judge De Walford, much to my amusement, looked at me and added ''Well played''. The Six Magistrates looked from the Judge back to me and I felt their eyes following me out of Court Number 9.

I gave a sight nod to 'Rumpold' as I left with the satisfied knowledge that British Justice had been done and that the original allegation of speeding last November of a few miles per hour over the 40 limit had disappeared well into the mist of (my) legal argument.

The usher called ''next appeal case please'' I replied to her ''and I expect to win that one as well''. Understandably she look confused, but that will be an other story for another day.


Anonymous said...

It makes one proud to be British!
Well done Hero!


Peter Troy said...

Well in a way yes TS but the NIP form and the robotic inforcment roadside tax collection continues by the Police in a very un-British way.

june said...

Great Stuff Peter and congratulations-- for both your persistence in standing up for your rights, the finding in your favour and your amusing account of the affair!

Adam said...

Seems like there's a new trick in town...

i have been running some analytics on the BTST Speed Camera
Database (as used in the BTST Locator) and the data is
suggesting that Speed Camera authorities have developed yet
another new method of catching motorists un-aware.

Over the last year I have exposed all manner of games the
authorities have been playing, from blatant "sting" speed traps
that look like broken down holiday makers, to stealth night time
traps that you would need military night vision goggles to see!

But this latest scam is beautiful in it's simplicity.

Speed Camera operators know that they miss out on a goldmine
of revenue because people often drive the same routes (to work
etc.) and simply know where the cameras are, and which direction
they are pointing in.

So, cunningly, it seems that some authorities are just swapping
the rear-facing and forward-facing cameras around in the middle
of the night!