Ex-firefighter cleared of white line offence

A former firefighter has been cleared of crossing double white lines on the A65 at Long Preston while riding his high-powered sports bike.

Retired sub-officer John Whitley had been accused of contravening road markings while overtaking a car on Sunday, April 22.

But Skipton magistrates found him not guilty after deciding traffic officer Mark Tiffany must have been more concerned with the bike travelling in front of Whitley.

They also heard that TC Tiffany’s surveillance camera had not been turned on at the time - although he thought it had.

Whitley, 60, and his friend, David Sangster, were both riding Honda Blackbird motorbikes and were heading towards Long Preston on their way home after a trip out to Devils Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale, the court heard.

Both men had been “progressing” past a line of traffic with cars pulling over to the side of the road to let them pass.

But the pair came up behind TC Tiffany’s unmarked police car that had not pulled over, and while Mr Sangster continued on his way, crossing over the line markings to pass, Whitley pulled in behind the BMW.

TC Tiffany told the court that he had been in a line of traffic heading towards Skipton and had witnessed Mr Sangster overtaking two cars behind him before passing him and completely crossing the middle lines.

He said Whitley had also passed the two cars behind him, and although he had not crossed the middle white lines, had driven up the centre of them, over the cat’s eyes, which was not allowed.

TC Tiffany stopped both bikes, issued Mr Sangster with a fixed penalty notice, but was unable to give one to Whitley because he did not have his licence on him at the time.

He told the court that he was absolutely sure Whitley had contravened the road markings and added that the road was too narrow at that section for bikes to pass without doing so.

He added that he had thought the whole incident had been recorded, but he had later discovered the equipment had been turned off at the time.

Whitley, defending himself, said TC Tiffany must have been mistaken and that he had asked three times to see video evidence, which as it had turned out, was not possible. He said he did not want to accuse the officer of lying, but he was sure he had been mistaken.

“I am sure I did not go over the white line. I am ex- fire brigade and I’ve been to accidents where motorcycles have gone over white lines. I would not do it,” said Whitley.

“If the police officer had moved over and let my friend overtake, we would not be here today.”

Magistrates said they found the officer’s evidence credible, but that he must have been more concerned with watching what Mr Sangster was doing rather than what Whitley was doing behind him.

They also found that Whitley, of Stamford Avenue, Blackpool, had given clear evidence.

Whitley was allowed to apply for costs.

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