Clarke fined for going too far

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The Independent Online
AS IF a hostile Euro-sceptic party and incessant jokes about his unreconstructed bon viveur lifestyle were not enough, Kenneth Clarke, the former chancellor of the exchequer, has now fallen foul of London Underground ticket inspectors.

Last Friday he was fined pounds 10 for failing to have a valid ticket when travelling to his home in Kennington, south London, after what he last night said was a "genuine mistake".

He had bought a carnet of 10 tickets, only valid on Zone 1 of the system, and so had paid 70p short of the proper fare for his journey. "It's just one of those things. I had a central zone ticket and I realised when I went up the lift I had gone too far," he said. "They said I couldn't pay the difference."

Mr Clarke, 59, strongly refuted claims that he kicked up a fuss during the incident, although admitted to telling the inspectors that the fine was "daft". "I behaved impeccably," he said. "As soon as I realised what I had done I approached the staff. I did not land in a heated exchange. I told them it was daft."

The former Conservative minister, who collects an MP's salary of pounds 45,000, and also holds a number of lucrative directorships, said he was more used to taking the bus than the Tube. He "simply made a mistake" because Kennington is the first stop of Zone 2 of the Underground. Perhaps, even after all this time, Mr Clarke is still missing the comfort of the ministerial limousine.