Huddersfield based road safety charity Brake say they are "hugely disappointed" after former footballer David Beckham was found not guilty of a speeding offence on a "mere technicality" in court.
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Former England captain Beckham, 43, was accused of driving a loaned Bentley at 59mph in a 40mph zone on the A40 in Paddington shortly after 5.30pm on January 23.
Beckham, who turned out for Manchester United and Real Madrid among others during his long playing career, was yesterday found not guilty of speeding after the Judge concluded that the notice of intended prosecution arrived a day late, as argued by his lawyer.
Despite accepting driving the car at that speed he will not face action because a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) was not received until one day after the statutory 14-day time limit.
His lawyer Nick Freeman told reporters Beckham, who was not in court, was "very relieved with the verdict and very happy with his legal team" after the trial at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
After hearing witnesses from both the Metropolitan Police and Bentley Motors Ltd, District Judge Barabara Barnes said she was satisfied that the NIP had been sent in time, but had simply arrived later than it should have.
But she was satisfied it did not arrive until February 7, having heard evidence from Colette Hollies, who has collected post for the legal department at Bentley twice a day for the past nine years.
Mr Freeman suggested the matter may simply have been a case of poor postal service, citing a subsequent letter sent first class by Bentley to Scotland Yard which took eight days to arrive.
He said: "Unfortunately and sadly some post attracts problems.
"There might be nobody at fault here."
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Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "It is hugely disappointing to see a role model like David Beckham shirking his responsibility and getting off a speeding prosecution on a mere technicality.
"At the speed Mr Beckham was reported to be travelling, his stopping distance would be double that of someone driving within the limit – he should count himself very lucky that no incident occurred and tragedy was avoided.
“Speeding is a dangerous and selfish act for which there is no excuse.
"Simply put, the faster a car is travelling, the more dangerous it is, and those who choose to ignore the law and the safety of others by speeding deserve to be punished.
"We hope Mr Beckham recognises his responsibility as a role model and makes clear to all those who look up to him that speeding is not acceptable.”
"Speeding is all too prevalent on our roads and savage cuts in road traffic police have only exacerbated the problem.
"The number of traffic officers fell a shocking 24% from 2012-2017 and this must be remedied in order to address the worrying decline in British road safety.
"We urge the Government to make roads policing a national investment priority, with a visible police presence catching and deterring illegal driving and cameras preventing the scourge of speeding.”
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Summing up, the judge said the law allowed for the "vagaries" of the postal system to be taken into account.
She said: "In this case I'm satisfied that the NIP was indeed sent within the 14 days to allow for it to be delivered within the 14 days.
"I find that on the balance of probabilities it's more likely than not this NIP was actually not served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within the 14 days as required.
"What I find is the fact it did not arrive in the post room of Bentley Motors Ltd until February 7 and therefore was one day outside the legal limit.
"The defendant in this case cannot be convicted."
Mr Freeman, who trademarked the nickname "Mr Loophole" in 2008, gained fame after helping a host of A-list clients hold onto their driving licences.
He counts Sir Alex Ferguson, Andrew Flintoff, and Colin Montgomerie among his celebrity clientele.