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Protest at CPS offices

By twarwick - Posted on 05 July 2009

Protest at CPS offices

Members of Reading CC protested on Friday at the Reading office of the Crown Prosecution Service, against the decision not to prosecute the driver who killed Anthony Maynard, and seriously injured Dave Ivory, exactly one year ago.

Roy Booth delivered the following message to the CPS. In a symbolic gesture, a red-stained "ghost bicycle" was chained to the sign outside the CPS office.

Why we are here today: Anthony Maynard, killed at Bix, 2008.

We are members of Reading Cycling Club, gathered here this afternoon in a quiet protest or short vigil in memory of our fellow cyclist Anthony Maynard, who was killed by a van driver exactly a year ago on the A4130 north of Henley.

We make our protest at the Thames Valley offices of the Crown Prosecution Service, whose officers last year inappropriately, remissly, and to our minds unforgivably decided that the van driver who struck Anthony (and his companion) from behind would not face charges. We did not, and do not hold Anthony’s life so cheap.

Our protest is on behalf of all cyclists. Almost uniquely in Europe, motorists involved in fatal accidents do not, in the UK, even in the face of the prime evidence against them of a dead body, have to prove their innocence. Here in this country, the C.P.S. decides whether charges can successfully be brought against the motorist, and can decide to drop a case entirely. In this instance, the van driver’s excuse that he simply didn't see the cyclists was accepted by the C.P.S. as an adequate accounting for the death of a highly principled and well-loved citizen in the prime of his life.

In a time when the nation as a whole is encouraged to exercise, and use forms of transport other than the car, cyclists need to feel that they have the full and equal protection of the law when on the public roads, and not a law apparently interpreted (or simply set aside) to the maximum advantage of the driver, no matter how culpably careless. The C.P.S. was in dereliction of its duty last year. We fervently hope that it will adopt a different perspective. Allowing drivers to kill with complete impunity just will not do, and does not meet the nation’s needs and priorities.

We append a quotation from Christopher G. Thompson, ‘District Crown Prosecutor, Oxford Rural’, in a letter sent by him to one of the Reading CC committee who had written deploring this failure to prosecute (dated 16 March 2009): “the fact that no prosecution has followed in this case does not in any way mean or suggest that drivers may drive carelessly around cyclists or that cyclists will not be afforded the protection of the law where appropriate.”

In what must have been a considered letter, that phrasing about ‘affording’ cyclists “the protection of the law where appropriate” is chilling: NO, Mr Thompson, NO! The protection of the law. Full stop.