Mayor calls for police probe into ‘illegal’ fines for motorists.

A CONTROVERSIAL former police chief is to take on the Government over millions of pounds-worth of motorists’ fines, which he believes are illegal.

Ray Mallon, now the Mayor of Middlesbrough, claims that penalties issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) could break the law.

Mr Mallon, who earned the nickname Robocop for his zero-tolerance approach to crime during his time at Cleveland Police, is to challenge the system. He believes millions of pounds could be refunded to drivers across the country.

“I look at this as a scam at the least, and a fraud at the worst,” said Mr Mallon.

“The DVLA has been abusing its powers for years and has trouble coming its way. I intend to do everything in my power to expose and dismantle this organisation piece by piece.”

Drivers who fail to notify the DVLA when they sell their vehicles are issued with a letter demanding a £50 penalty.

If they try to contest it, the case is handed over to a debt recovery agency.

Mr Mallon said he spotted a flaw in the practice when studying demands sent to his daughters, who both fell foul of the rules when they sold their cars earlier this year.

He said the DVLA could be challenged because it effectively issues fines, without first seeking the power to do so from a criminal court.

“These cowboys have decided they don’t want to go through the expense and aggravation of going to a court of law,” said Mr Mallon.

“They demand the money from people, and don’t mention anything about our legal right to go to court. Members of the public will think they have to pay it, because they don’t know the law, but there are certain principles which are enshrined in British law.

“A person is innocent until proven guilty, and everyone has the right of appeal.

“This is an abuse by the establishment.

I feel strongly about this, because they are picking on the public.

“This is all on the toes of the Government, and I want the Government to take action.”

Figures obtained by The Northern Echo show that the DVLA has earned £3,123,332 from out-of-court settlement letters sent to UK motorists in the past three years.

A total of 167,000 drivers have been subject to the penalties over the period.

“This is a government department and it is clearly out of control,” said Mr Mallon.

“Some sections of this agency are clearly interested in income generation, which will no doubt please its masters within Whitehall.

“This drip-feeds money for the Government.

“People sitting around a big boardroom table have decided to do this, and they are misleading the public. This has been going nicely for them until I came along. Now I am going to derail it.”

After a number of requests from Mr Mallon, one of his daughters has now been issued with a magistrates’

court summons. Mr Mallon said last night that he had to “demand” to get a date in court. He said he would attend the hearing with her, and challenge the agency’s right to issue the penalties in such a way.

Mr Mallon is also to write to the Department of Transport to complain, and said he planned to ask Cleveland Police to begin criminal investigations.

“I want the police to investigate whether criminal offences have been committed here,” he said. “I want people who the DVLA has taken money from to be refunded, as appropriate, and I want the DVLA to alter their practices immediately.

“This is not about my daughters, and it is not about innocence or guilt. It is about the way the agency gets money from members of the public.

“I have never come across a more serious and blatant case of abuse by a public sector organisation.”

A spokesman for the DVLA said: “We have a duty to maintain an accurate record and this plays an important part in ensuring safety on the roads.

“Our licensing and registration systems are designed to make it as easy as possible for drivers to use the road safely and legally.

“Where a vehicle keeper wishes to dispute a penalty issued for failing to tell DVLA that they have sold their vehicle, they can choose to have their case heard in court.”

■ This is an extract from the letter which Mr Mallon is to send to Lord Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport, today:

“The DVLA has seriously misled the public. It is one matter for the DVLA to impose a penalty for the alleged offence, but when the member of the public rejects it, it should then be referred to a court of law or be dropped.

“What is monstrous is for the penalty to be rejected, and then for the DVLA to refer it to a credit company when a penalty has never been imposed by a court of law.