Ed Balls under police investigation over 'fail-to-stop collision' outside West Yorkshire offices

Shadow chancellor's car was filmed crashing into parked vehicle in West Yorkshire - before driving off

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The Independent Online

It was an open goal for his critics who have long enjoyed comparing Labour’s stewardship of the economy to the proverbial car crash.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was today forced to apologise after it emerged he had driven off after damaging another vehicle whilst exercising a tricky manoeuvre in his Morley constituency.

Mr Balls, who has a history of minor road traffic infringements including talking on a mobile phone whilst driving, said he had not been aware of pranging a black Peugeot 306 earlier this month insisting he believed he had merely “touched bumpers”.

As he prepared to spend the day arguing that Britain was in the grip of a cost of living crisis despite a rash of positive economic figures, the MP found much of the media focus was on his performance behind the wheel of a car rather than what he might do should he get the keys to Number 11 Downing Street.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed that it was investigating the “fail to stop collision” on 5 April. Failing to stop at the scene of an accident carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a £5,000 fine and up to 10 penalty points.

The incident had been caught on CCTV and the registration traced as the family car used by Mr Balls and his wife, shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper. 

After news of the incident leaked to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Mr Balls issued a statement. “10 days ago, I turned our car round in a tight spot in the private drive beside the Labour rooms in Morley. There was a stationary car parked close by.

“The turn took five or seven points and I was aware that at one point the bumpers of the two cars touched. I park there all the time in what is a relatively narrow drive. But until I was contacted the following Wednesday, I had no awareness at all that there had been any damage to the other car.

“As soon as I was made aware of what had happened, I took full responsibility for any damage caused. I have written to the owner of the other car to say I was terribly sorry and to reimburse the owner concerned for the necessary repair.

“I have contacted our insurance company in the usual way.”

Unable to resist, Chancellor George Osborne's ministerial aide Rob Wilson wrote on Twitter: “Ed Balls has crashed the car again. Thankfully nobody hurt... rather unlike when he crashed our economy.”

Sergeant Adrian Wright, of West Yorkshire Police's Eastern Area Roads Policing Unit, said the owner of the vehicle had contacted officers the following day.” Damage was caused to the front offside wing of a parked black Peugeot 306. Inquiries are ongoing,” he said.

During the 2010 election campaign Mr Balls was caught using a mobile phone whilst driving from London to his West Yorkshire constituency. He said he had taken the device off the hands-free cradle so as not to wake his children and was fined £60 and received three points on his licence. In June last year it emerged Mr Balls had been fined £350 and given another three points after pleading guilty to going through a red light in his car following a late-night Commons sitting. Two months earlier he had been caught doing 56mph in a 50mph motorway zone. He agreed to attend a speed awareness course rather than receive points.