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HEARD THE ONE ABOUT THE `IRISH' SPEED FINE; Driver has Ulster licence so penalty is trebled.

Byline: ROBERT FAIRBURN EXCLUSIVE

AN angry driver is claiming racial discrimination after his speeding fine was trebled because he has a Northern Ireland driving licence.

Jeremy Stockton was given a pounds 60 fixed penalty and three penalty points after being caught travelling in Edinburgh at 50mph in a 30mph zone.

But then he was told the ticket office were unable to process the fine.

The problem was that Jeremy's licence was issued in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Under the current legislation, any licence not issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea is regarded as foreign, even those from Coleraine which is in the UK.

That meant the case would have to be handled by a court.

But at Edinburgh District Court, the JP decided to hike the fine up to pounds 180, with five penalty points.

Jeremy, 35, a freelance photographer, said: "I could not believe it when I found out the court verdict.

"It is direct or indirect racial dis- crimination, whatever way you look at it.

"I was quite willing to pay the pounds 60 but to treble the fine is ridiculous.

"The court is virtually saying you are a second-class citizen if you come from Northern Ireland."

The DVLA know of the legal anomaly and are trying to get Coleraine licences officially recognised throughout the UK. In the meantime, the District Courts Association in Scotland have issued guidance notes.

They recommend to JPs that drivers with Northern Ireland licences should receive the same sentence as fixed penalty tickets.

But a JP can still impose the sentence he or she feels is appropriate.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The road traffic legislation is in the process of being amended to include Coleraine licences.

"Guidance has been issued to JPs to say that if the only condition of a fixed penalty notice not met is that the licence was issued in Northern Ireland, the sentence should be the same."

Jeremy, of Tranent, East Lothian, said: "Given what I have been told, I feel I have good grounds for appeal. I certainly have no intention of paying the pounds 180."

He has enlisted Jack McConnell's help in his battle after meeting the First Minister at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council, who operate the district court, confirmed the offer to Jeremy of a fixed penalty had been withdrawn as they did not recognise the Northern Irish licence.

She added: "He is entitled to appeal to the High Court and has been sent the forms."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 15, 2003
Words:420
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