Beckham licenced to speed away from paparazzi

MANCHESTER United and England football star David Beckham won his driving licence back yesterday even though a judge upheld a speeding conviction against him.

Judge Barry Woodward, sitting at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court, said that he would not endorse Beckham's licence, which already has 10 points on it, because he was being pursued by photographers at the time of the speeding incident on 24 July.

Judge Woodward said that he and the two magistrates who listened to the day-long appeal found that Beckham, 24, was guilty of speeding, but there were "special reasons" for letting him keep his licence.

An pounds 800 fine was upheld and Beckham was ordered to pay pounds 1,200 costs in addition to pounds 190 costs incurred at the magistrates court.

The footballer was found guilty of doing 76mph on the 50mph A34 by-pass in Stockport, Greater Manchester, and given an eight-month ban by Stockport magistrates last week.

Magistrates rejected his plea that he accelerated in his pounds 150,000 Ferrari Maranello to escape a pursuing paparazzo who had stalked him for 10 miles from his home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

"I thought if I didn't put my foot down it would cause an accident," Beckham said. "At the time I didn't know what I was doing - I was just trying to get away from his car."