Tom Tugendhat claims he was holding but ‘not using’ mobile phone while driving
The Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, 49, is facing a ban from the roads at a court hearing next week
Security minister Tom Tugendhat claimed he was holding but “not using” his mobile phone as he pleaded guilty to a driving offence.
The Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, 49, is facing a ban from the roads at a court hearing next week after he was stopped by police in his Skoda 4×4 in Wandsworth on April 4.
Mr Tugendhat, who stood for the Tory leadership after Boris Johnson stepped down, previously apologised after he was prosecuted for using a mobile phone while driving.
In a written guilty plea to Bromley Magistrates’ Court, which heard the case in private under the single justice procedure, the politician said: “I was holding my phone – not using it.
“After the incident I took a course to refresh and correct my driving.
“I have included the result of the course. Please accept the course report.
“I accept my responsibility and recognise my culpability.”
Mr Tugendhat was assessed as “low” risk following his advanced driving course in May, according to the report.
“Thomas does not come across as a fast driver who likes to rush; in fact, Thomas is very calm and handles situations accordingly,” his instructor wrote.
“Thomas is a well-balanced driver and is interested in reaching his destination safely.”
The Metropolitan Police sent Mr Tugendhat a conditional offer of a fixed penalty notice in April, and Mr Tugendhat agreed to pay the fine and surrender his driving licence, according to court papers.
But the offence was sent to court for prosecution because Mr Tugendhat already had six penalty points on his driving record.
Using a mobile phone while driving can attract six penalty points and a disqualification can be imposed if a driver tots up 12 points within three years. But a ban can be avoided if the defendant can show “exceptional hardship” would be caused by the loss of their licence.
Mr Tugendhat’s case has been sent for a full hearing to consider disqualification at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on November 17.
In a statement, Pc Joseph Robson said he spotted the MP’s car shortly before 2.45pm in Wandsworth High Street.
“I noticed the driver of this vehicle was using a handheld mobile device whilst driving,” he said. “The device was being held in their left hand to the front, in front of themselves.
“I saw this from around three metres, in good daylight with no obstructions, I saw this for around 20 seconds.
“The driver did appear to be having a conversation. The driver did not appear to be operating the device.
“I stopped the vehicle and spoke with the driver. I confirmed they weren’t making emergency contact to the 999 service. I pointed out the offence where they confirmed the communication was using maps.”
Mr Tugendhat, who lives in Clapham, south-west London, made no comment when told he was being reported for a potential prosecution, the officer said.
A spokesman for Mr Tugendhat previously said: “Tom was stopped by police in April this year for holding his phone while driving.
“He accepts that holding his phone while driving is an offence.
“Tom immediately put himself on a driving course of his own volition.
“He received the court documents six months later and has entered a guilty plea.
“He apologises unreservedly and will accept the outcome of the case.”
It is understood Mr Tugendhat informed the Home Office permanent secretary about the driving offence after he was appointed as a minister in September.