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

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine