Journalist wins appeal against mobile phone driving fine

A freelance journalist fined £170 for using a mobile phone while driving has successfully appealed against his conviction after he told court that the device was, in fact, a dictaphone.

Richard Turner of Theydon Mount, Epping, told Chelmsford Crown Court he was listening to comments from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger which had been recorded on a dictaphone which was on his dashboard.

He said that at the time the police stopped him the dictaphone had fallen down and he had caught it and held it in his hand while driving.

Turner, whose fine was imposed at Harlow Magistrates Court, had been driving on the M11 and was stopped on 14 October 2007.

Giving evidence, Turner said: “I was listening to quotes from Arsene Wenger, the dictaphone twice slipped down and then fell off.

“I caught it after it hit my knee and held it for a few seconds while holding the wheel.”

Allowing the appeal, Mr Recorder Blackford, sitting with two justices, said the police officer had not examined the equipment.

“Mr Turner has produced to this court dictation equipment similar to a mobile phone,” he said.

“It is possible looking casually into the car the officer it might have been mistaken for a mobile phone.”

Turner had also complained about the officer’s attitude during the incident and Blackford said: “We’ve come to the conclusion the officer wasn’t the best listener.”

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