Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Chinese Whispers

In the world of local politics, a great deal of information is passed around by word of mouth. That way of course is often the fastest and most discreet way of disseminating information; more importantly in politics though, you find it's also completely deniable; but it does come with the issue associated with 'Chinese Whispers' with regards to accuracy.
So, in order to head off some of the more malicious whisperings that have recently come to light surrounding my Summer hiatus, here are the facts.

On the 8th June, not long after completing my last blog post in fact, I met some colleagues of mine for a drink to discuss some ongoing business in Camberley. Nothing unusual in that of course, since I have always found that chatting over a pint or a coffee to be a great way to quietly discuss commercial or political business. Once concluded, I left Camberley in order to pick up my son from nursery but realizing that I'd left without settling my bill, I then travelled back to the pub where I met another colleague who'd arrived quite by chance with payment for some Ball tickets I'd previously bought for him.
He bought me a drink.

I got into my car and had driven approximately 100 yards when I was stopped by Surrey Police. Three cars as it happened. I asked one of the PC's why it had taken three cars to undertake the stop and it transpired that 'a call had been made'* and that they were waiting.
I was subsequently breathalyzed with a reading at 41mg.
35mg is the legal limit, and I've sinced learned that owing to the accuracy of the machines, 40mg is considered to be within the 'corridor of doubt' which generally means that a motorist is cautioned and sent on their way. But in my case, I was taken to Woking Police Station in order to give breathalyzer evidence on the more accurate machines there.

Once at Woking, I asked to speak to a Duty Solicitor. I've always been taught to do this if I ever found myself at a Police Station for whatever reason. However, I was told that I must provide a breath sample ahead of that in cases such as these.
This I refused to do.
Not long after that, I was permitted to speak to the duty solicitor on the telephone who stated that I should probably have taken the test, given my low reading.
I was subsequently charged with Refusal to Provide a Specimen and bailed to appear before the Magistrates, thereafter convicted of the same.

Therewith the facts.
Naturally, I'm deeply saddened by this series of events. It has already had a negative effect personally, professionally and politically, with logistical challenges at home, business contracts lost or deferred and my feeling it necessary to resign the whip at County Hall.
All for the sake of a pint.
But most difficult of all, I do feel incredibly guilty about the potential risk that I may have caused to other road users on 8th June.

And for that, I remain deeply regretful.

*Details to follow.

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