A PRIVATE parking company picked on the wrong man when it issued a £100 fine after falsely claiming a car had been parked outside a McDonald’s drive-thru for more than 10 hours.

The vehicle is owned by former professional boxer and security company boss, Francis Jones – and is fitted with satellite tracking equipment proving the allegations are completely false.

Francis, founder of Darlington-based Sparta Security Group, has described the actions of UK Parking Control as “disgusting” and is demanding an explanation.

“We’re lucky to have geo-tracking on all our company vehicles, so we have ample evidence to show exactly where they are at all times, but what about other people who aren’t that fortunate?” said Francis.

According to the fine issued by UKPC, a Hyundai KONA was parked outside the McDonald’s outlet at Newton Aycliffe from 7.14pm to 5.20am the next morning – a total of 10 hours and six minutes.

When the £100 fine landed on his desk, Francis initially thought one of his Task Force Managers had been sleeping on the job and was ready to take disciplinary action.

However, the geo-tracking system clearly showed he had actually been driving to various sites around the North-East, checking on their security.

The manager had called at the drive-thru for a coffee at the start of his shift and again the following morning but had been touring the region, guarding against crime, for the rest of the time.

“What worries me is that this could happen to someone elderly, without the evidence to prove their innocence, who may feel intimidated into paying the fine,” said Francis.

“One thing’s for sure, we won’t be paying a penny and we want an explanation from UKPC as to how this can happen. If we have tracking systems in place, how come they don’t have in their line of business?”

Sparta Security Group has written to the parking company, pointing out its evidence, and has received an automated response, acknowledging the appeal, and saying the fine will be suspended while enquiries take place.

UKPC, which describes itself as the UK’s leading specialists in car park management, was unavailable for comment.

A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We have parking restrictions in place at a number of our restaurants, with a time limit to ensure there is adequate parking for all of our customers. Our third party car park management company have completed a review and subsequently resolved this issue.”