UK Politics

Ed Balls will not contest any penalty for hitting parked car

Ed Balls Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Balls said he took "full responsibility" for the incident

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has said he will not contest any penalty he might receive after admitting to a driving offence in his Yorkshire constituency.

Police have been looking into claims Mr Balls allegedly drove off after his vehicle hit a parked car in Morley.

Mr Balls said he was not aware at the time that he had caused any damage but acknowledged he should have checked.

West Yorkshire Police said it was still consulting with prosecutors and no decision on any action had been taken.

The offence of failing to stop after an accident can mean five to 10 penalty points, disqualification from driving, a fine of up to £5,000, or, in the most serious cases, a jail sentence of up to six months.

The Yorkshire Post reported last month that the shadow chancellor had been traced by CCTV coverage to the scene of the alleged incident on 5 April, outside a Labour party building in the West Yorkshire town.

'Accidental bump'

Writing on his website, Mr Balls said he wanted to "set out what had happened" after being asked about the "accidental bump" by some constituents.

"As I explained to the Yorkshire Evening Post, I'd been turning our car round in a tight spot in the narrow private drive beside the Labour rooms in Morley where I park all the time," he wrote.

"Another car was parked close by and I was aware the two bumpers touched. But I had no idea any damage had been done until the police got in touch a week later.

"As soon as I was aware any damage had been done I immediately took full responsibility for any damage caused.

"I've been in touch with the owner to apologise for the inconvenience and to pay for the repair to the marks on the parked car's bodywork.

'Stop and check'

"The police have to do their job. Once I'd confirmed I knew the bumpers had touched, their standard approach is to proceed to charge as they expect people to stop and check.

"I fully understand and accept that, so of course I will be accepting the charge. While I had no knowledge at the time that any damage had occurred, I accept their view that I should have checked.

"Getting points on my licence will be a blow - but that's the way it works."

Last year, the Labour MP was given three points for driving through a red light in central London.

He was also caught speeding in West Yorkshire, for which he paid a fine and attended a speed awareness course rather than accept penalty points.

In 2010, Mr Balls said he had behaved "stupidly" after being caught talking on his mobile phone while driving - although the three points he received on that occasion should have lapsed.

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