A NORTH-EAST footballing legend caught using a mobile phone while driving is to fight to keep his licence after claiming he helps raise £1m a year through charity work.

Former Sunderland player Micky Horswill was yesterday found guilty of driving while using the phone in Shildon, County Durham, on June 9.

Magistrates heard that the Real Radio Legends presenter already has 13 penalty points on his licence. But the Liverpool Court that convicted him of speeding in June 2007 did not impose a ban.

Horswill, 56, could receive another three points when he is back at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court for sentencing on November 24.

But he will argue that if he is banned from driving it will cause him, and the charities he works with, exceptional hardship.

Yesterday, Horswill told the court he worked for “dozens and dozens” of charities and estimated he helped bring in more than £1m a year.

Magistrates heard police became aware of Horswill’s driving when he pulled out at a roundabout on West Auckland Road.

PC Tina Smith said she was forced to perform an emergency stop to avoid hitting Horswill who was holding the phone to his ear as he drove.

She said she saw Horswill’s BMW X5 illegally cross double white lines in the centre of the road three times before she pulled him over.

Inspecting his mobile phone she noted the call was made at 4.08pm and issued a document timed at 4.15pm.

Horswill, of Mitford Court, Sedgefield, County Durham, denied the charge. Giving evidence, he said he finished his day job, as a buyer for Wilson Art, a kitchen worktop manufacturer, at about 4pm.

He said he made a three-minute call while parked up and would have only taken about 15 seconds to drive from Wilson Art to the roundabout.

Charles Hughes, for Horswill, said phone records proved the call had finished at 4.09pm, before PC Smith and her colleague, PC Paul Cowling, claim to have seen him.

He said: “I think he is the sort of man that, without a doubt, if he is wrong and he did something wrong, he would admit to it.

“At the same time, if he did not do anything wrong then he would be the first one to challenge it.”