Case File 4
Mr. S., North Yorkshire
"On August Bank Holiday last year I was riding a motorcycle on the A65 in North Yorkshire. I had just been on a police training course and was riding at 60 mph as I also knew the police are always on that road and other motorists always flash their lights.
"I was the middle bike of three, we were not together. The bike in front had overtaken me a bit earlier. I noticed a police Impreza coming up behind at high speed and overtaking the rear bike, it came behind me and passed me at full acceleration and disappeared after the first bike. I was not concerned as I had not been speeding and was not with the first bike which was speeding at that point.
"About a mile further on the police car was parked in the middle of the road and I thought there had been an accident. However he flagged me and the following bike down having already stopped the first one.
"Without going into all the detail, he said that he had clocked the back bike when I was then at the front some 3.8 miles back and as it was doing 86 mph according to his laser gun the two in front must have been too. Myself and the front bike argued that this was not correct but he insisted and reluctantly showed me his video which proved nothing. I elected to go to court over this and left the others, who subsequently and reluctantly accepted fixed penalty tickets when the police officer said they would be fined £600 with 6 points.
"I went to court and lost I also lost on appeal. However I am still not satisfied and am considering throwing more money at it to go a stage further as I was NOT speeding.
"The video which was produced seconds before the court case showed the police car doing 114 mph to catch us as he had been parked in a hidden farm way and so we had a 30 second start on him. The video mysteriously did not start until less than a second before we passed the farm track and showed us for about a third of a second. He took chase and overtook lots of vehicles on an ordinary road despite traffic coming the other way, very dangerous driving. When he caught us we were still doing 60 and the video proved that was our average.
"The police officer said in court that he had clocked us 1000 feet away at an angle I calculated at less than 3 degrees. He reckoned to be able to select one bike from three doing an alleged 86 mph. This is impossible as his heartbeat would be enough to hit a different bike. This is also at the very limit of using a laser gun on one vehicle only.
"When I went to appeal the 2 magistrates were from the same bench!
"I have enclosed a copy of my original letter to complain about this matter. The letter was written before I had seen the video, which made his case even less sustainable yet he still pulled it off."
Inspector Lambert 2nd October 2000
Skipton Police Station,
RE. Summons Skipton Magistrates, P.C.37 Moorhouse
On August 28th 2000, Bank Holiday Monday, I was riding my motorcycle on the A65 northwards. I had followed some traffic at a very slow speed around a twisty part of the road before the right turning to Clapham. As I started on the Clapham bypass I saw that the road was completely clear and overtook this traffic at 60mph continuing along the road at the same speed, 55 to 60 mph. Whilst overtaking the traffic two other motorcycles caught me up and followed me past. A little further along the road the first of these motorcycles, which was carrying a pillion, overtook me but the other remained behind.
Some distance further along I noticed in my mirror that a police car was catching the motorcycle behind, it followed for a short time before overtaking and then followed me. At this point I was confident that I was not doing anything wrong. The police car, which was a Subaru Impreza 4 x 4 turbo, then overtook me and accelerating at full power disappeared into the distance at very high speed. The police car was not displaying any lights or sounding a siren. A little further along the road I came across the police car stationary in the middle of the road and I thought there had been an accident, however the officer inside was gesturing me to pull into a junction on the left. The motorcycle, which had overtaken me earlier, had already stopped there. The motorcycle behind was also told to stop. The officer then pulled his car into the junction, stopped about 10ft from the edge of the road and got out leaving the door open and the engine running, which was the case throughout this incident.
He ordered us all to remove our helmets and said "Right you were all speeding on the Clapham Bypass and I measured the speed of you (pointing at the lady who was behind me) travelling at 86mph." He then made a comment about the first rider being the worst one because he had not seen him following and was a bad rider. At this point none of us made any comment. The officer said that he needed to drive at high speed to catch up with us. He then said that we could all go to court and get a ?1000 fine and 6 points or take a fixed penalty ticket of ?40 and 3 points, which did we want?
I asked him what evidence he had that I was speeding. He said that I must have been speeding because a motorcycle behind me was. I said that was insufficient as the other motorcycles could have been catching me up. He then produced a speed gun which had a reading of -86mph which I understand means that the vehicle was travelling away from him. He said that he could also prove it with his VASCAR device. I said he could not for two reasons, firstly I was not speeding and secondly he was not following in sight until some considerable distance up the road when I was still not speeding. I asked to see the video. After further discussions he reluctantly agreed to this and we got into his car only for him to say " get out of my car until I say so".
When he let me in I said that I could not see the screen because of the glare and I tried to shield it with my hand only for him to push it away and tell me not to touch it. I got out of the car and said to the others that in my opinion the officer was not telling the truth and I would reluctantly have to go to court.
A further very long argument went on with us all insisting that he was not telling the truth. This led to the officer losing his temper, waving his arms about and saying that we could now all go to court and didn't have a choice. We told him we didn't think he could do this as he had already offered us the choice. When he calmed down I told him that I was sure that his video would show that I was not speeding using the formula of distance over time equalling speed, which he himself had quoted earlier, and that it was unfair to expect me to make a decision without seeing the video properly. He said it would be obvious on a full size screen and he would not waste any more time letting me watch it again. He said that he had better things to do which subsequently turned out to be that he had arranged to rendezvous with another officer to swap cars, according to a radio message.
After even more discussion he again reluctantly agreed to let me watch the video. I was not able to see all of it because he kept winding it forward but I did notice that at one point he was travelling at 107mph (78% over the limit) on a busy country road which is a quite inappropriate speed for the conditions. I also noticed that the journey took around 4 minutes. The officer said he would measure the distance and I offered to come with him but he declined. I later measured the distance and found it to be less than 4 miles i.e. less than 60 mph average. The officer had used this example to show that my average was over 60 mph, which it clearly wasn't.
Whilst we were in the car the officer received the radio message mentioned earlier and also a car pulled alongside to complain about a motorist who had just passed. The officer told them that he would deal with it but took no details and did not take any action whatsoever. The officer asked my name and took a more conciliatory tone. He said that I had been abusive to him and that was why he was angry. I said that I had not been abusive but I thought he was not telling the truth or was mistaken but that didn't amount to abuse and I was sorry if he felt abused, as that was not my intention.
I told him that I was a very careful and cautious rider, with a clean license, who had never had any accidents or convictions on my bike and that I had just spent 2 days on a police motorcycle course through the Bikesafe 2000 initiative run by the police. This course was advertised at the side of the road we were on. I am always keen to improve my riding and to see how I should ride properly from the police perspective and indeed if I was riding properly in their expert opinion. I said that I did not do the course in order to give myself a right to break the law with police sanctioning. Although I was not speeding in this instance, I was told on the course by police motorcyclists and IAM instructors that the superior acceleration and speed of a motorcycle should be used to overtake as quickly and safely as possible, thus spending as little time as possible in the face of oncoming traffic and potential danger. The course was also designed to promote good relations between the police and motorcyclists, which it did. I have also encouraged my friends to go on this excellent course. The officer replied with a sarcastic comment about us riding around the countryside with police motorcyclists who let us break the speed limit, he said that he was not interested in Bikesafe 2000. He did not appear keen on promoting good relationships at all.
Again I said that I was not speeding and would definitely go to court if he insisted.
We got out of the car and he went over to my bike 10 to 15 yards away still leaving his car engine running which I believe is illegal. He beckoned me over and asked me about my numberplate, which he had not noticed when he was following me. I told him that I had been to France where the original one had been pulled off and I had bought that one which was a proper standard size legal French plate and I had a bill to prove it. I said that I was sorry but had overlooked replacing it and couldn't that day because it was a bank holiday. He then wrote me a producer but didn't offer a fixed penalty for the number plate.
He then said quietly so that the others could not hear that I had made the right decision and that so long as my signature on the producer matched my license nothing further would happen. I was under the impression that he wanted me to go without speaking to the other two. Since I thought that he had now relented and was not pursuing it any further, I left. This episode up to this point took approximately one hour.
After leaving the scene I rode to Devils Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale. Some 40 minutes later the lady who had been stopped behind me arrived there having continued the discussion with the officer and the other man. The officer apparently said that he was going to let her off but couldn't because the other man wouldn't leave and he was reporting me too. Eventually he persuaded her to accept a fixed penalty ticket, as it was her bike only, which had provided him with his 86 mph reading. He also told her to ring him if he she had any further problems although she could not think what these might be. Her motorcycle had a smaller illegal number plate than mine did but he did nothing about it. When she left him the first biker was still with him.
The reason for this rather long letter is that it was such a long encounter and to register a complaint against the officer P.C. Moorhouse number 37, regardless of the outcome. He was discourteous, belligerent and had a very intimidating manner. He stood very close to me in "my space" towering above me to try to force me to admit to something which I didn't think I had done. He lost control of himself by losing his temper and he wasted a tremendous amount of valuable police time, even more if we go to court. In addition to this he did not treat me equally with the female for no apparent reason. He ridiculed the police initiative to promote bike safety, which I had actively supported, which I found particularly offensive. He did not follow proper procedure in the use of his speed gun as the bikes were passing other vehicles which could give an inaccurate reading with other movement within it's range. He drove at an excessive, dangerous and inappropriate speed without using his warning systems, an excuse to drive his road going racing car too fast with impunity. He was the one who was a potential danger to the public. He did not advise me that I could have taken the fixed penalty and changed my mind later, nor did he offer one for the numberplate. He failed to act on a complaint from another motorist. He left his car unattended with the engine running. At the end he lied to me to get me away from the scene. His behaviour was a disgrace and the actions of an intimidating, inconsiderate bully.
Is there some sort of kudos for an officer who pulls 3 bikes at once and does he have a target to meet? Why is P.C.Moorhouse on that particularly safe straight piece of road regularly? Speeding motorists are easy prey there; he should be catching the lunatics on the narrow twisty roads in the area who are a real danger to the public, he must know that most accidents happen on bends. That is what the public want. It is easy to pluck somebody out of the traffic, after hiding up a farm track, threaten them with court action, ?1000 fines, double points and then get them to accept a much lesser penalty knowing that most people will grudgingly accept. This requires little skill or discretion. This is not fighting crime or protecting the public, the actions of this one officer risks alienating the police when we should be helping each other.
If I had thought that I was speeding I would have probably stopped when I had the opportunity and not ridden into his waiting arms. I ride on that road often and often see police speed traps, there are also numerous signs warning of speed cameras and on that day other motorists were flashing their lights (illegally!) as they always do when they see police cars. It would be foolish to speed on there.
My solicitor has advised me that this case is legally flawed simply on the grounds that P.C.Moorhouse did not supply any corroborative evidence. The decision to plead not guilty and to write this letter was not taken until I had asked the opinion of many other people, including police officers and various other people who I consider responsible members of society. I therefore ask that this case is reconsidered before any more time and money is wasted. I apologise for the length of this letter but I feel that the whole incident was far too long and unnecessary. I would also like to thank you for giving this your attention and consideration.
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