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Lincolnshire Police naming drink-drivers was 'immoral'

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: February 04, 2014

Police naming drink-drivers   was 'immoral'
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A motoring law expert has questioned the morality and purpose of Lincolnshire Police naming alleged drink-drivers in its festive crackdown.

The force published the names and addresses of 74 people charged throughout December, their alleged breathalyser readings, where and when they were stopped and the dates of court appearances.

Michael Pace, a partner at Lincoln law firm Andrew & Co and head of the motoring law and personal injury team, said: "While the police can legally name someone charged with an offence, there's the moral issue over whether they should.

"I think for the police to publicly name people when court cases have not commenced and they have not pleaded guilty or been found guilty belittles justice.

"I think the whole thing was misguided and mishandled."

Lincolnshire Police spokesman Dick Holmes said: "We can name people who are charged and say they are going to court, it's not a problem. We could do with every crime.

"We took legal advice about releasing the names of those charged with drink-driving and we were encouraged to do so by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

"We name people charged with more serious offences like murder, but you could also argue there's no more serious an offence than drink-driving, given the risk of killing yourself or someone else.

"No one has ever said the police ruined Rose West's life when they named her as being charged with murder.

"One reason people don't drink and drive is that they don't want the shame of being caught or to lose their job."

The month-long anti-drink- and-drug-driving campaign targeted suspects at any time of the day – including the morning after the night before.

In December, Jim Tyner, Community Policing Inspector at Lincolnshire Police, told the Echo: "If the risk of being publicly shamed has prevented just one person from drink- driving, it's worth it."

Nick Freeman, a well-known celebrity lawyer nicknamed Mr Loophole, specialising in traffic and speeding offences, says it is immoral to name and shame alleged drink-drivers.

He said: "Naming these people before there is a guilty verdict is at best misguided; at worst it is totally immoral.

"Naming and shaming before conviction, unless it is in the public interest to do so, is ridiculous and potentially designed to encourage vigilante action. 'I have represented hundreds of clients who have been acquitted for a whole variety of different reasons.

"This means they have been found not guilty. They leave court without a stain on their character. If any person has been named and shamed and is ultimately acquitted they may have a substantial claim for damages against the police."

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5 comments

  • Stayingalive  |  February 05 2014, 8:43AM

    There would certainly be a lot of empty space in our newspapers, including the Lincolnshire Echo, if the police didn't provide details of those charged with criminal offences! Is it still immoral to name them during a court trial - this is still prior to any finding of guilt?

    |   1
  • Menshy  |  February 04 2014, 8:56PM

    Nick Freeman is a lawyer, he makes a good living exploiting loopholes to gain acquittals for drink-drivers and the perpetrators of other heinous crimes. That money he is raking in comes from the taxes we all pay. He feels he is in a good position to lecture us on morality. Unbelievable!

    |   3
  • Blue_Mooner  |  February 04 2014, 4:01PM

    Presumably Mr Pace wil be seeking "damage claims" for some of his erstwhile clients. Tough.

  • theknowitall  |  February 04 2014, 2:57PM

    Presumably we can look foward to the names and addresses of those involved on Police Interceptors last night who drove at speed and demolished a gas main. Surely there should be a consistent approach for the sake of equality.

    |   4
  • Steve_Hykeham  |  February 04 2014, 2:10PM

    Forget about the yoghurt knitters spouting about it being "immoral" if they hadn't broken the law in the first place, they wouldn't have been on the list, end of!

    |   9

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