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Police apologise as charges against “dangerous” cyclist accused of “riding on the wrong side of the road” while filming phone driver dropped on eve of trial

The Met Police say the footage submitted by the cyclist – who was told that he “posed a danger to other road users” – has been used for internal training purposes

The Metropolitan Police has apologised for any “stress and inconvenience” caused as it dropped its much-criticised attempt to prosecute a cyclist accused of “posing a danger to other road users” as he attempted to film a phone-using motorist – just one day before the cyclist was due to face trial for cycling without due care and attention.

In a letter sent to the cyclist yesterday explaining the U-turn, a senior manager at the Met said that while responses to footage of road traffic violations submitted to the police were “subjective” and based on the opinion of the officer reviewing the footage, the offence of cycling without due care was not met in this instance, and that the footage of the incident is now being used by the force for internal training purposes.

As we reported last month, 56-year-old Dave Clifton was cycling on Pont Street in Belgravia, London on 22 August 2023 when he spotted a Range Rover using his mobile phone while driving in traffic in the opposite direction, before turning around to capture footage of the motorist’s phone use with his helmet camera.

However, after submitting the footage (above) to the Met, Clifton was told by a member of the force’s traffic division in correspondence seen by road.cc that the police intended to criminally prosecute him for allegedly committing the offence of ‘riding a cycle on a road without due care and attention’ while attempting to film the Range Rover driver.

According to one of the officers dealing with the case, Clifton had “ridden onto the wrong side of the road [and] into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist”.

“Cycling without due care and attention is where the standard of riding has fallen below what is expected of a competent and careful cyclist, and the manner of riding could pose a danger to other road users,” the officer continued.

The phone-using motorist, meanwhile, received a police advisory letter warning him about the standard of his driving, while the motorcyclist received no further action.

Police apologise as charges against cyclist accused of “riding on the wrong side of the road” while filming phone driver dropped (Dave Clifton)

> Cyclist to be prosecuted for “riding in the middle of the road” after filming a driver using mobile phone

Clifton, who described the attempt to prosecute him as both “ludicrous” and “malicious”, told road.cc: “I was cycling along Pont Street behind a van. I looked behind me and, when I looked back, the van had veered into the taxi rank to avoid a motorcyclist that was on the wrong side of the road, so I braked and moved to one side.

“Motorcyclists do this all the time, it’s not a problem, and it would be petty to prosecute them for it. As I stopped, I saw a Range Rover driver using his mobile phone, so I turned around and recorded that.”

Describing the Met’s handling of his submission, Clifton says that the original staff member who claimed he was riding “on the wrong side of the road” had “ignored” multiple emails requesting clarification on this decision, before the officer’s manager wrote to confirm the criminal prosecution attempt.

“I thought I might get an FPN [Fixed Penalty Notice], but they decided to go straight to court,” the cyclist told road.cc.

“There are no road markings. The wrong side of the road doesn’t start wherever the police want it to start. It’s their word against my video, how is that ever going to work for them?”

> Not giving up — why a camera cyclist driven off social media by abuse won’t stop reporting dangerous motorists

However, on Tuesday, just one day before the 56-year-old was set to appear in court, a senior manager at the Met contacted Clifton to let him know that his footage had been reviewed again and that the case against him has been dropped.

“After your complaint was received, I decided to review the dashcam footage and felt that the evidence test for the offence of driving without due care was not met, this was discussed and reviewed with the CPS who agreed with our assessment and we have made an application for this case to be discontinued,” the officer wrote in a letter seen by road.cc.

“All footage that is received is subjective to the person viewing and in this case we have used your footage for internal training for our Public Reporting team as we continue to ensure all of our staff are trained and supported to the highest standard.

“We endeavour to provide the highest quality service to members of the public who take the time to report traffic violations, helping keep London’s roads safe as part of our Vision Zero for London.

“We appreciate the time and effort the public take to report these offences and on this occasion we are sorry for any stress and inconvenience that this may have caused you.”

Police apologise as charges against cyclist accused of “riding on the wrong side of the road” while filming phone driver dropped on eve of trial (Dave Clifton)

Responding to the Met’s last-ditch decision to drop the charges, Clifton told road.cc that the police’s hand may have been forced by the overwhelming backlash and negative publicity generated by the initial reporting of their prosecution attempt in February.

“The letter suggested that I had made a complaint, that they had consulted the CPS, and that ‘the evidence test... was not met’,” he says.

“What they meant to say was ‘we’ve seen ourselves in the newspaper and realised that no offence was committed’.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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17 comments

Avatar
NPlus1Bikelights | 2 months ago
1 like

CPS suspiciously quiet. Now the police should give him some damages and donate to Cycling UK. 

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Secret_squirrel replied to NPlus1Bikelights | 2 months ago
0 likes

NPlus1Bikelights wrote:

CPS suspiciously quiet. Now the police should give him some damages and donate to Cycling UK. 

Dont be ridiculous.  He hasnt suffered any loss.  Infact he's probably learn a good lesson in not getting so obsessed about trying to film phone drivers that you forget how to ride a bike well.

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Hirsute replied to NPlus1Bikelights | 2 months ago
0 likes

I can't see any case for damages. He was a bit close to traffic coming the other way, so hopefully he'll leave a bit more room next time.

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mitsky | 2 months ago
7 likes

I'm glad that the nonsense of going after the cyclist who did nothing wrong has ended.

Albeit it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

My own prediction was wrong: that the case would actually get to court and then get thrown out with the Met police being told "Don't waste our time.".
https://road.cc/content/news/cyclist-who-reported-driver-using-phone-fac...

I hope the cyclist's complaint against the Met police has real consequences and leads to better/correct outcomes.

A while ago I put in a formal complaint against one of the staff who reviews evidence.
He seemed to have quite a high rate of "no further action" or simply issuing warning letters to drivers, compared to other Met staff members who would have NIPed similar/identical incidents.
I suggested, in my complaint, that the bad apple was simply doing it to improve his own stats on closing cases and that management do a thorough review of his caseload and outcomes to identify anomalies.
I later learned that the individual is no longer in that team.
Though of course, they would never admit that it was because of any findings that might agree with my suspicions.

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bobbinogs replied to mitsky | 2 months ago
9 likes

mmm, coppers covering up for other coppers?  Nope, never happen /ironic font

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brooksby replied to bobbinogs | 2 months ago
4 likes

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/mar/05/it-was-so-wrong-why-were-s...

Interesting read, particularly on how injuries were reported by the police so as to bolster up the 'preferred narrative'.

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wtjs replied to bobbinogs | 2 months ago
1 like

mmm, coppers covering up for other coppers?  Nope, never happen

Irony appreciated. The Angiolini Report shows that it's even worse than we thought.

The second stage of the Home Office inquiry will explore the possibility there is a "deep-rooted culture in policing in which finding reasons not to pursue a crime is preferred over any attempt to build a successful case for prosecution

It's not just a 'possibility', at least in the Met and Lancashire Constabulary- where they view people who waste police time by reporting offences as the real criminals. Wait until Lady Angioloni gets onto David Carrick, while the police just carry on 'business as usual' interspersed with monumentally insincere 'apologies'.

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don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
11 likes

Bloody cyclists forcing the police to waste time and money on prosecutions that even a child could see was never going to happen.

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Hirsute replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
6 likes

Hmm "even a child could see"
Is there something you need to confess to don ?!

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quiff | 2 months ago
7 likes

Spotted a Range Rover driver using his mobile phone

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Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
0 likes

I cant believe the blinkered, biased responses on this.

Was it deserving of prosecution - no.

Was it shit cycling with shit road positioning - yes.

Firstly riding way on the right without any need - shit.

Wobbling even further to the right whilst glancing over at the RR driver - shit.

Blocking the filtering Motorcyclist because he wasnt paying attention - shit.

Trying to double back to capture the RR driver - shit.

What the hell was the guy thinking.   He's a wanna be CyclingMikey without any road sense.

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the little onion replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
9 likes

Secret_squirrel wrote:

I cant believe the blinkered, biased responses on this.

Was it deserving of prosecution - no.

 

I don't think anyone thinks this is great cycling. But as you say, it certainly doesn't deserve prosecution, yet the police pursued it. This could, and should, have been left with a charge for the driver, and some 'words of advice' to the cyclist.

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wycombewheeler | 2 months ago
13 likes

There are no centre markings, if they had been there, it wasn't the cyclist on the wrong side because you can see where they are before the cyclist passes the bus. The bus and all the vehicles following are across that theoretical line due to roadworks. I suspect removal of the centre line paint is part of the roadworks.

What a malicious prosecution

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leipreachan | 2 months ago
7 likes

The problem is if it got to a court, the public money would be spend ONCE AGAIN.

No penalties for policeman who made a wrong decision. No penalties for the Land Rover driver. Nope. Every mistake made by anyone either "wealthy" or "hidden behind bureaucrasy" is paid twice, if not trice, by tax payer.

Ah, right, also we pay for judges with their excuses of "it was a minute mistake and this person is good father of 73 kids"

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Hirsute | 2 months ago
16 likes

You left out the bit where the spokesman says "phone use whilst driving is part of the fatal 5 and we acknowledge that the driver should have been issued with a £200 fine and 6 points on their licence".

Or did I imagine that.

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the little onion | 2 months ago
16 likes

institutionally anti-cyclist

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Safety | 2 months ago
16 likes

Shouldn't the reviewing officer be charged with wasting police time?

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