Lawyer gets council to drop parking fine that 'violated my human rights'

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The Independent Online

There are many reactions experienced by motorists who discover their car has been clamped: the desire to utter a string of stream-of-consciousness obscenities, the desire to perpetrate extreme violence or simply the desire to sit in the street and blub.

There are many reactions experienced by motorists who discover their car has been clamped: the desire to utter a string of stream-of-consciousness obscenities, the desire to perpetrate extreme violence or simply the desire to sit in the street and blub.

But it apparently takes a lawyer to consider that perhaps their human rights have been contravened.

Westminster City Council was said yesterday to have dropped a parking fine that one of its traffic wardens had imposed on Jeremy Rosenblatt, a lawyer, when he complained that its actions went against the European Convention on Human Rights.

"Of course they will not admit that is the reason they dropped the fine because they are terrified of setting a precedent," said Mr Rosenblatt, 39, a family law specialist. "But I hope that it will make councils up and down the country change their procedure."

Mr Rosenblatt's legal challenge began after he was given two fixed penalty notices last March when his Fiat Punto was left in a parking bay close to his home in central London. The second of the tickets was issued several hours after the first, because the car had still not been removed. It was later clamped.

Mr Rosenblatt said he paid the £125 clamp removal fee as well as the second fixed penalty of £80, but was not aware that he had been given the first notice until two weeks later.

By then he had missed the deadline whereby the council would have halved the fixed penalty fine for prompt payment. But Mr Rosenblatt argued in a letter to the council that such a procedure undermined his right to a fair trial and, therefore, contravened Article Six of the human rights convention.

"If somebody threatens you with doubling the fine, then you aren't being given the right to a fair trial," he said. "They are trying to push you into a corner and make you pay. I decided to fight this for the human rights of the common man, as well as looking after mine."

After investigating Mr Rosenblatt's complaint, the local council agreed to drop the first £80 fine.

But yesterday, the council's chairman of Transportation and Highways, Louise St John Howe, said that the authority did not consider Mr Rosenblatt's human rights had been contravened.

She said in the council's defence: "Anyone who receives a parking ticket is entitled to contest it. If a second ticket is issued for the same offence, on the same day and in the same place, the city council may cancel one of these tickets."

"In this particular case, there is no question that Mr Rosenblatt's ticket was cancelled because of his claim that European human rights law makes parking fines illegal," she added.

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