Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/18/lord_text_death/
Lord Ahmed faces dangerous driving charge
Investigation centred on text message sent before crash
A Labour Peer has been charged with dangerous driving after allegedly sending text messages shortly before hitting a car on the M1 on Christmas Day, 2007.
Lord Ahmed has been called to appear before Sheffield magistrates in connection with dangerous driving offences. He is accused of crashing his Jaguar X-type into a stationary Audi A4 and killing its driver. The incident happened on Christmas Day, 2007. A text message was allegedly sent from the peer's phone three minutes before it was used to call the emergency services.
The Audi was in the fast lane facing the wrong way. Its driver and passenger had got safely to the hard shoulder but the driver, 28-year old Martyn Gombar, returned to the vehicle to get his mobile just before the car was hit.
Lord Ahmed told the Times after the incident: "There was a red car in the third lane facing the wrong way and there was nothing I could do,” he said. “It was absolutely horrendous, but I don't want to talk about it.” Ahmed's wife and mother were in the car at the time.
The Times said the police investigation had centred on the text message claims.
South Yorkshire Police said: "On advice from the Special Crime Division of the CPS, a 51-year-old Rotherham man has been issued with a summons to appear at Sheffield Magistrates Court on (date to be fixed) in relation to driving his motor car dangerously on the southbound carriageway of the M1 between junctions 40 and 35 on 25/12/07."
Causing death by dangerous driving can result in a maximum 14-year sentence, although that would be highly unusual.
But the Sentencing Advisory Panel guidelines, which in July recommended longer sentences, describe using a mobile phone as "an occasion when an offence would be aggravated on the grounds that the driver's attention was avoidably distracted". More here as a pdf. Most people found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving get sentences of between 18 months and 5 years.
The last peer of the realm to face porridge was Lord Watson of Invergowrie, who got banged up for setting fire to an Edinburgh hotel in 2004 after the Scottish Politician of the Year awards. Lying Lord Archer was released after serving half of a four-year sentence for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 2003. ®