Tory MP Richard Benyon has been banned from the road for using his mobile phone at the wheel
Britain’s ‘wealthiest MP’ has been banned from the road for six months after he was caught texting while driving through north London in his BMW.
Tory MP and property developer Richard Benyon, 57, was seen by a police officer in Islington using his phone while sitting in stationary traffic.
Magistrates’ heard the MP for Newbury, Berkshire, continued to use the phone after the light turned green and he moved ‘five to seven metres’ forward.
Beata Murphy, prosecuting, said of Benyon: ‘He appeared to be texting and manipulating the glass screen using his thumb.’
He was pulled over and admitted to using the phone, saying: ‘I thought I was allowed to use it when I’m not moving’.
Benyon, of Reading, admitted one count of using a handheld mobile phone while driving.
Magistrates’ heard Benyon already has six points on his licence, three from a speeding offence in October 2014, and three for another speeding offence from September 2015.
Changes in law over the number of points that can be issued for using a mobile phone while driving was increased from three points to six points in March this year.
The former junior minister admitted the offence and was handed a a six-month road ban
Magistrates’ ordered Benyon be issued six points, which puts him over the maximum number of twelve points allowed before a driver is disqualified.
In a statement issued from his House of Commons office after learning of his court-imposed driving ban, MP Richard Benyon said: ‘I deeply regret my actions and entirely accept the verdict of the court.
‘There is absolutely no excuse for texting whilst driving – even in stationary and very heavy, slow traffic as was the situation in my case.’
The former Environment under secretary stated he earns £3,987 a month in a means form submitted to the court. He was fined £421 including costs.
Benyon lives on a sprawling 14,000 acre estate in a Grade II listed mansion in Reading and is said to be worth over £100million. He is said to be the wealthiest MP in the UK.
The property magnate has previously come under fire over allegations of increasing rents at an affordable housing estate in Hackney, purchased by his family firm in 2014.
Benyon was stopped by a policeman on a bicycle as he drove down Upper Street, Islington
Thomas Daniel, defending, said the road was ‘completely gridlocked’.
He added: ‘This is the lowest end of this type of offence. He moved only five to seven meters. And that is at about walking pace.’
Mr Daniel pleaded with the bench to use its discretionary powers to hand Benyon a shorter disqualification period.
Mr Daniel said that if the offence had taken place six weeks prior, Benyon would have been automatically issued three points and would not be over the point limit under the ‘totting up’ system.