If one speed camera isn’t working properly then every Gatso in Sussex should be tested, say road campaigners. Last week, a motorist challenged a camera partnership in court and judges ruled that the Gatso that snapped him was inaccurate.

Now an organisation representing drivers has described the devastating effect a false speeding offence can have – and is demanding every motorist caught out by the dodgy camera should be compensated. Naomi Loomes reports.

For motorcyclist Peter Barker, going to court to challenge a £60 speeding ticket was daunting but necessary.

The 51-year-old was so convinced that he was innocent that he spent six months reading up about the intricacies of traffic law and learning the workings of Gatsos.

He even enlisted the help of Tony Read, a senior consultant in the incident investigation and reconstruction group TRL, who was the principal investigator into the crash which killed Princess Diana in 1997.

But his efforts were worth it, for when he went to Brighton Magistrates’ Court, the case was thrown out because of the evidence he had collected.

He had been snapped passing the camera on Ditchling Road, Brighton, at what Sussex Safety Camera Partnership said was 38mph in a 30mph zone.

The court backed Mr Barker saying the photographic evidence submitted by the partnership was unreliable.

It ruled that the interval between the two photographs being taken by the camera was inaccurate – meaning the device could not correctly measure how fast passing traffic was going.

It is thought the case might open the floodgates for motorists who have fallen victim to speed cameras across the county.

Hugh Bladon, from the Association of British Drivers (ABD), said he was shocked by the findings of Mr Barker and his legal team.

He insisted it was every driver’s right to have his or her case reheard or quashed and described the devastating effect a false speeding conviction could have.

Mr Bladon said: “If there is any doubt about the accuracy of this camera then every motorist who has been prosecuted should have their fines refunded and the points taken off their licences.

“I’m encouraged that a motorist has been able to prove that the cameras are not always as accurate as they’re made out to be.

“It should be the case now that every camera controlled by the partnership is checked and every ticket is quashed.

“Drivers should not only have the fine repaid but I believe they should be compensated for any costs the alleged offence incurred for them.

“The effect of a speeding ticket can be devastating. Not only does your insurance premium shoot up but some people lose their jobs, and some even lose their marriages.

“It is incumbent on the road partnership itself to get in touch with each and every driver affected by this camera rather than the other way round.

“They will have records of everyone snapped by the camera and they must contact every one of them.

“Many victims of this camera will live outside Sussex and may not even know that this court case has happened.

“I understand that it is unlikely to have made a mistake with people going far over the limit, say someone doing 50mph, but all those borderline cases should be quashed or reviewed because the basis on which they had their money taken off them is flawed.”

Des Turner, the MP for Brighton Kemptown, agreed with the ABD.

He said: “Very safe, very good drivers might be caught just three or four miles per hour over the limit and this can mean the end of someone’s licence and indeed livelihood. There is a margin of error of 35mph which is there to distinguish a safe driver from a dangerous one and if camera companies have put that in place it’s crucial they are accurate about it.”

But many experts believe while cases like this are important for maintaining standards, reaction to it should be tempered by the fact no driver has proved they were not speeding at all.

Andrew Howard, the head of road safety at the AA, said: “The reality is that drivers are given a 5mph margin for error, so while Mr Barker has shown he was not over 35mph he has not shown he was not over the legal limit of 30mph.

“There have been many cases where people have been able to prove some cameras are inaccurate or have found problems with positioning such as cameras on bends but no one has been able to give the silver bullet to speed cameras and on the whole they continue to work very well.”

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