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Cyclist prosecuted for filming driver on his phone at the wheel has case dropped

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 07/10/2022 Joe Pinkstone
cyclist © Provided by The Telegraph cyclist

Cycling campaigners have secured the dropping of a criminal case against a man who was snaring drivers allegedly using their mobile phones with his helmet-mounted camera. 

Tom Bosanquet, 43, stopped in the road at a set of traffic lights after spotting a man purportedly using his phone at the wheel of a vehicle.

Footage from his camera reveals he challenged the driver before a brief conversation between the two led to a momentary hold-up in traffic. 

However, Mr Bosanquet was later prosecuted by Avon and Somerset Police for “inconsiderate cycling” during the incident in Bristol. 

The case was due to go for trial at North Somerset Magistrates Court on October 7 but was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after a review found it to not be in the public interest. 

Mr Bosanquet received financial aid to cover his legal costs from the Cyclists’ Defence Fund of Cycling UK, a pro-cyclist charity. 

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In a statement celebrating the legal win, Cycling UK said the brief delay to traffic which was the focus of Mr Bosanquet’s alleged wrongdoing lasted only a few seconds. 

However, a van driver stuck behind the debating cyclist and driver honked his horn before “accelerating through a red light and without leaving the required 1.5m space”.

Mr Bosanquet said the legal ordeal had left him feeling “shaken” by the saga. 

“This case has been a long, drawn-out and stressful process, and as the first run-in I’ve ever had with the law, I’ve felt shaken by it,” he said. 

“The attempted prosecution was heavy-handed and inappropriate, something borne out by the case now being dropped.

“I am relieved now to move on from this episode, wiser but undaunted in my desire for the ongoing safety of all vulnerable road users. 

“Throughout I’ve been humbled by the support shown to me both by individuals and groups such as Bristol Cycling Campaign, and particularly grateful to Cycling UK’s Cyclists’ Defence Fund which was there to take my side and support me.”

The fund comes entirely from donations and is run by Cycling UK, and money from the pot has now been used in four cases, including that of Mr Bosanquet, over two decades. 

In all instances, the cases have either been successful appeals or dropped by the CPS. 

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said of the latest case: “It’s somewhat ironic that Mr Bosanquet was prosecuted in the incident when he was using a helmet camera to catch footage with the intention of supporting the police collect evidence of bad behaviour on our roads. 

“This is something that police forces across the country have expressed they welcome from the public, and any negligible delay to traffic was caused in part by this.

“Cycling UK believes the police should never have referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service, so we’re pleased it’s now been dropped. Going to court would undoubtedly have been a waste of resources.”

Growing disquiet between cyclists and drivers has led to a change in the Highway Code, where cyclists get more protection and there is also a proposed new “death by dangerous cycling” law to hold bike users more accountable. 

Official figures for 2019 show that there were five pedestrian deaths involving a cyclist. However, in the same year 48 cyclists and 305 pedestrians were killed by cars, Department for Transport figures show. 

Grant Shapps, the former transport secretary, said in August that bicycles should have number plates and may be subject to a 20pmh speed limit. 

A CPS spokesman said: "When we reviewed this case, we concluded that our legal test for a prosecution was not met.”

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police told The Telegraph: "We are grateful to all members of the public who submit footage detailing suspected road traffic offences and incidents through our website, as it greatly helps us carry out effective investigations.

“Before submitting footage, we do make clear that ‘if it is identified that the person submitting the footage has also committed an alleged offence, they may also be prosecuted’.

“The CPS has decided not to proceed further with this case in relation to an incident from March 4 2021. We recognise and accept its decision.”

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