A senior Labour MP has been banned from driving for eight weeks after police stopped his car and found he had no insurance and an expired MOT certificate.
Jon Cruddas, 50, was driving a Land Rover Freelander near Hyde Park in central London on July 6 when he was pulled over by officers who noticed what appeared to be a defective brake light.
The MP for Dagenham and Rainham, who is chairing Labour’s policy review, was banned from driving for eight weeks for not having any insurance and fined £300 for an expired MOT.
Dressed in a dark suit and red tie, sheepish-looking Cruddas pleaded guilty to both charge when he appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Daniel Irving, prosecuting, said: “At 9am on July 6, police saw a grey Land Rover Freelander with a brake light that wasn’t aligned.
“Checks revealed a test certificate had expired in June and no insurance was held. Land Rover had sent a letter saying the insurance expired some ten days before the event.
“When he was pulled over, he said ‘sorry I don’t have insurance'”.
The court heard that Cruddas already had six points on his license for speeding, so a further six points would have meant a compulsory driving ban.
Mark McDonald, mitigating for the MP, said Cruddas put paying for everything on a “to-do” list, but simply forgot about it.
He added: “He thought he had two weeks to pay and simply didn’t read the letter properly. He wrongly assumed and didn’t check and didn’t read the letter basically.
“He thought he had an extra week and as a circumstance, he was driving with no insurance. It was in a file on a to-do list. He forgot.
“He is a constituency member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham. Parliament was in recess so he was going to there at the time.
“He drives round his constituency and there is an enormous amount to deal with. He has to go to his constituency, he has to go to Parliament so he will have to catch public transport.”
Referring to the six points Cruddas already had on his license, District Judge John Zani said “the trouble is six and six make 12” – meaning the MP would get an automatic ban.
Sentencing the MP, he added: “Ordinary members of the public may suffer because of where he lives and works.
“I take into account you haven’t wasted anyone’s time and have accepted you have done wrong.
“It is a straight-forward situation – you didn’t check the letter and you didn’t get round to do your to-do list.
“I take into account you are a good character and haven’t wasted time. I also take into account the effect on other people. Punishment will be suffered by you and other people because of where you work.”
Cruddas was forced to defend himself earlier this month when it emerged he had received £167,000 from trade unions over the last decade – the second biggest handout after donations to Ed Miliband, the Labour leader.
The MP, who unsuccessfully stood against Labour veteran Harriet Harman for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, received the money in union donations from 2001, according to Electoral Commission figures.
Cruddas defended the donations, saying the cash was used to remove the BNP from Barking and Dagenham. He was a member of the Transport and General Workers Union from 1989 until his election to Parliament in 2001.