MP Tom Tugendhat banned from driving for six months

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he is facing a driving ban after pleading guilty to using his phone behind the wheel. Picture date: Thursday November 17, 2022.

THE MP for Tonbridge & Malling has been banned from driving for six months after being caught with his mobile phone in his hand while at the wheel.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat was stopped by police in his Skoda 4×4 in Wandsworth on April 14.

As previously reported in the Times, Mr Tugendhat, who lives in Clapham, south-west London, appeared in court at Bromley Magistrates’ Court in a private hearing under the single justice procedure on Friday November 4.

But the case was sent to a sentencing hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last Thursday (November 17).

The 49-year-old MP attended the hearing in person, wearing a blue tie and a navy suit.

Geraldine Dickinson, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Tugendhat was pulled over by police on Wandsworth High Street after an officer noticed that his phone was in his left hand.

“He noticed that the driver was using a handheld phone,” she said.

“The device was being held in the driver’s left hand. He saw this in broad daylight for around 20 seconds.”

She said the officer confirmed that Mr Tugendhat was not using the phone to call the emergency services.

“It was confirmed that he was using maps,” she said.

Paul Morris, defending, said that his client accepted that he would receive a driving ban.

He did not offer any mitigation of ‘exceptional hardship’ that would be caused by Mr Tugendhat being banned from driving.

Judge Jack McGarva said that using a mobile phone is a distraction.

“Using a mobile phone in any way is a distraction,” he said.

“Without any doubt it impairs people’s ability to drive.

“I would expect you to set a good example for the rest of us.”

Mr Tugendhat received six penalty points on his driver’s licence for the offence, added to the six he already had for two previous driving offences – leading to him being banned for six months.

As well as the driving ban, the security minister received a £1,000 fine.

He was also ordered to pay a surcharge of £100 and costs of £110.

Mr Tugendhat, who has previously stood for leader of the Conservative Party, admitted the offence earlier this month but claimed he was not using his phone.

In a written guilty plea the politician had said: “I was holding my phone – not using it.

“After the incident I took a course to refresh and correct my driving.

“I have included the result of the course. Please accept the course report. I accept my responsibility and recognise my culpability.”

The Metropolitan Police sent Mr Tugendhat a conditional offer of a fixed penalty notice in April and Mr Tugendhat agreed to pay the fine and surrender his driving licence, according to court papers.

He also attended an advanced driving course in May, where he was assessed as low risk, but the offence was sent to court for prosecution due to the six penalty points already on his driving record.

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