Harman faces driving charges

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The Independent Online

Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, is to be charged with driving without due care and attention and driving while using a mobile phone, the Crown Prosecution Service announced last night.

The Cabinet minister for women and equality is alleged to have crashed her car into another vehicle while talking on her mobile phone in Dulwich, south-east London, on 3 July. A court summons will now be served on her.

The CPS made the decision to prosecute last night after being passed a file by the Metropolitan Police on 9 November. If found guilty of driving while using a mobile phone, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham can expect three points on her driving licence and a £60 fine. Driving without due care and attention carries a maximum fine of £5,000 and an endorsement of up to nine licence points.

The offence of driving while using a mobile phone was created in 2003. The Government increased the punishment in 2007 from a £30 fine to three points and a £60 fine.

A spokeswoman for the MP said: "Ms Harman strongly refutes the allegations and will deny the charges." Ms Harman was said to have stopped briefly after the crash but some reports said she drove off without leaving her insurance or registration details. When a witness approached her car, the MP is said to have wound down her window and said: "I'm Harriet Harman – you know where you can get hold of me." But the MP has not been charged with failing to stop after an accident – a more serious offence which can carry up to six months in prison.