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118mph Police driving instructor’s speed shame
THE former head of a police driving school was last night condemned as "grossly irresponsible, highly dangerous, and utterly hypocritical" after admitting driving at 118mph.
Paul Gee, who has since retired and receives a police pension of £1,800 a month, was yesterday banned for three months and fined £500.
The ex-inspector claimed he was carrying out a risk assessment to help traffic policemen hone their high-speed driving skills.
Gee, who had 30 years service with the force, was caught by a mobile camera in a police van parked on a bridge over the M9 at Kinnaird, near Falkirk, in Stirlingshire.
He tried to dodge the camera by changing lanes and braking, but the attempt failed.
Gee was in uniform and driving a marked 5-Series BMW diesel at the time of the incident, on November 3, 2006.
Last night, his actions were condemned by the former head of traffic at the Metropolitan Police, Kevin Delaney.
Former Chief Superintendent Delaney, now head of road safety at the IAM Motoring Trust, condemned Gee's actions as "grossly irresponsible, highly dangerous, and utterly hypocritical"
adding: "I don't care how good a driver he is, or how well trained he is, the simple fact is that the laws of physics apply.
"His stopping distance at that speed would have been 840 feet, as opposed to the stopping distance at 70mph of 315 feet. So that extra 48mph more than doubled his stopping distance.
"There is a message here that I hope will be taken not only by other drivers, but by police officers all over the United Kingdom.
"Just because they are police officers they can't just put their foot down and expect to get away with it.
"Frankly, he deserved everything he got and perhaps a bit more."
Road safety campaign group Brake also condemned Gee.
A spokesman said: "Nobody should be travelling on a public road at 118mph. There can be no excuse for such a blatant flouting of the law.
"A three-month ban fails to adequately reflect the danger that this driver posed."
Minutes before he was due to face trial at Falkirk Sheriff Court, Gee, 49, of Heddon On The Wall, Northumberland, changed his plea to guilty to speeding.
Procurator fiscal depute Graham McLachlan said the offence was committed on a Friday at 9.50am, when the weather and road were dry and traffic was moderate. Mr McLachlan said: "It quickly became apparent that the vehicle was a marked police car registered to Durham Constabulary and the matter was subsequently reported."
Gee made a retrospective attempt to "make contact and claim exemption" from the speed laws, but this was rejected by Central Scotland Police.
The court heard that he had been driving from Durham to the Northern Police Convalescent and Treatment Centre, in Auchterarder, Perthshire, to pick someone up, when he decided to assess the M5 saloon at high speed. Defence solicitor David Hunter said: "His last rank was inspector and part of his responsibility was for driver training.
"He took the view that he could drive at this speed so he could consider new routes for driver training."
Sheriff Craig Caldwell asked whether Gee had followed protocol and informed the local force of his plan. Mr Hunter replied: "It was an opportunity that arose and he felt he should take it." The lawyer said Gee told him the force often uses the Scottish motorways for driver training because of the congestion in England.
Mr Hunter added: "He felt at the time he was doing this for a police purpose, but after careful consideration and taking into account all the circumstances Mr Gee now feels he did not meet the exemption criteria.
"When he saw the camera, he moved from the outside lane to the inside lane and moderated his speed. He did this to avoid proceedings like this."
Sheriff Craig Caldwell, rejecting a defence plea not to ban him, and told Gee: "I have sat here on many occasions saying to motorists that people who drive over 100 miles an hour cannot expect to keep their driving licences."
After the case, Gee declined to comment.