Pc Mark Milton was cleared by a court last May after ‘familiarising’ himself with his 3.2-litre Vauxhall Vectra GSi.
Concerns were raised that the case would undermine drivers’ confidence in the Government’s anti-speeding campaign and led to accusations of double standards as company car drivers increasingly face more cameras, fines and bans as a result of the police’s hard-line approach to speeding.
But now, judges in the High Court have referred the case back to court for a retrial, ruling that the district judge who heard the case at Ludlow Magistrates’ Court erred in law when acquitting the West Mercia police officer.
Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Owen, said the district judge had taken into account irrelevant matters, including opinions of senior officers that Pc Milton’s driving was not dangerous.
Milton is a qualified advanced driver and his legal representative argued that he was taking the car for a test run when his onboard camera clocked him at speeds up to 91mph in a 30mph zone and 159mph on the M54 motorway around Telford, Shropshire, in the early hours of December 5, 2003.
At the time, the judge said the prosecution failed to prove Milton was driving dangerously and the car was being used for ‘police purposes’ at the time of the incident.
Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed road safety campaign, said the outcome of the case would do untold damage to policing and police response driving.
He said: ‘No one will know where they stand. Training will suffer. Police officers will have even more to worry about when they are attempting to respond to emergencies. Although Mark Milton’s case appears extreme, there will be deadly knock-on effects across the board.’