Harman to face investigation over car crash

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Indy Politics

Harriet Harman is to be investigated by police after allegations that she crashed her car after talking on her mobile phone and then drove off without leaving any contact details.

Labour’s deputy leader is to be quizzed by Scotland Yard over the crash, which happened near her Dulwich home in South-east London in July. A witness claimed that while the equality minister stopped only briefly after the incident before driving off.

The witness told the Mail on Sunday that before leaving, she allegedly told onlookers: “I’m Harriet Harman - you know where you can get hold of me.” Anyone found guilty of leaving an accident can be handed a six-moth jail term.

She has also been accused of crashing into the parked car while ending a mobile phone call. Using a mobile phone while driving was banned by the Labour Government in 2003 and carries a £60 fine and a three-point penalty. Motorists can also be fined up to £2,500 and handed between three and nine penalty points for careless driving. Ms Harman denies any wrongdoing.

It is thought that police had intended to speak with Ms Harman last week, but were delayed by the start of the Labour Party conference. As deputy leader, Ms Harman gave the closing speech at the conference in Brighton. A Scotland Yard spokeswoman would not reveal whether the Camberwell and Peckham MP had been questioned, but said: “We are investigating a minor traffic collision in Dulwich on July 3 and are in the process of taking statements from all parties concerned.”

Ms Harman was not commenting on the incident last night. However, a spokeswoman for the Leader of the House of Commons said: “She strongly refutes the allegations, but is co-operating fully with the police.”

Any driver involved in an accident with another car is obliged to leave their contact details, under the 1988 Road Traffic Act. They must also leave the registration number of their vehicle. Anyone unable to leave details at the time of the crash must report it to police within a week.

Ms Harman has twice been fined for motoring offences in the past. In 2003, she was handed a one-week driving ban and fined £400 for speeding. She was clocked driving at 99mph on a motorway. Two years ago, she was again fined and given three points on her licence for breaking the speed limit in a 40mph zone on the A14 in Suffolk.

On that occasion, she narrowly avoided a court appearance after paying the fine several months late. “She made an innocent mistake,” a Labour Party source said at the time. “She forgot to pay on time because she was spending all her time on the deputy leadership contest touring the country.”