Ed Balls investigated by police over ‘fail to stop’ crash

Ed Balls investigated by police over ‘fail to stop’ crash

The shadow chancellor reversed his Ford Mondeo estate into a Peugeot 306 and drove off without telling the owner

By Hayley Dixon1:55PM BST 16 Apr 2014

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, is being investigated by police after he crashed into a parked car and then drove off without informing the owner.

The Labour MP for Morley and Outwood has admitted that he found himself in a “tight spot” and realised that he knocked the Peugeot 306 whilst making a seven point turn in his Ford Mondeo estate, but says he left the scene thinking he had not caused any damage.

In a statement Mr Balls insisted that he only realised that the incident in his constituency earlier this month had caused damage when he was contacted by police, and has now apologised to the owner and offered to pay for the repairs.

It is the fourth time the Labour frontbencher, who once described his beloved 1.8 litre family car as the most expensive thing he has ever bought, besides property, has been accused of a traffic offence.

Dan Rowley, 32, the owner, has refused to discuss the damage, but his brush with the shadow chancellor is unlikely to cost Mr Balls any votes as he is not a Labour supporter.

“I’m 32 and I’ve never voted in my life because I think they’re the biggest crooks in the entire world,” he said.
West Yorkshire Police have confirmed officers were making inquiries into a “fail to stop collision” on Saturday April 5.

Mr Balls said in a statement: “Ten days ago, I turned our car round in a tight spot in the private drive beside the Labour rooms in Morley. There was a stationary car parked close by.

“The turn took five or seven points and I was aware that at one point the bumpers of the two cars touched.
“I park there all the time in what is a relatively narrow drive.

“But until I was contacted the following Wednesday, I had no awareness at all that there had been any damage to the other car.

“As soon as I was made aware of what had happened, I took full responsibility for any damage caused.
“I have written to the owner of the other car to say I was terribly sorry and to reimburse the owner concerned for the necessary repair.

“I have contacted our insurance company in the usual way.”

Speaking outside his constituency office he added that he had decided to turn around rather than reverse into the road as it was busy.

Mr Balls, whose Mondeo has 90,000 miles on the clock, said: “I did feel a slight nudge but I thought it was just a slight hit bumper to bumper. It happens from time to time.

“It turns out I’d hit just above the bumper and I’ve heard it’s just a scuff there’s not any damage to my car.”
Mr Rowley, a support worker, was doing routine visits at a block of assisted living flats and had parked his Peugeot in a car park, which is approximately 16ft wide, and is shared by the flats, the Labour offices acts as an overflow for the nearby St Mary’s in the Wood Church.

The collision was caught on CCTV and Mr Balls’ registration number was traced after the Mr Rowley noticed damage the following day and called the police.

Sergeant Adrian Wright, of West Yorkshire Police’s Eastern Area Roads Policing Unit, said: “We received a report on Sunday 6 April of a fail to stop collision on Commercial Street, Morley, which is reported to have happened the day before on Saturday 5 April.

“Damage was caused to the front offside wing of a parked black Peugeot 306. Enquiries are ongoing.”

Although the car park was empty this morning, a worker at the assisted living flats confirmed that it could get quite busy at weekends.

Chancellor George Osborne’s ministerial aide Rob Wilson wrote on Twitter: “Ed Balls has crashed the car again. Thankfully nobody hurt….rather unlike when he crashed our economy.”

His behaviour was also criticised by ward councillor Judith Elliot, of the Morley Borough Independents, who said: “I do not think it is acceptable.

“I am surprised that he did not find the owner of the car and deal with it appropriately.”

It is not the first time that Mr Balls has been in trouble with police because of his driving.

During the last general election campaign in 2010 he was forced to apologise for his “stupid behaviour” after he was fined £60 for using his mobile phone whilst behind the wheel.

It is understood his cheque was later returned to him as the authorities lost his licence.

Then, in April last year, he admitted that he had been caught “going too far, too fast”, a reference to his criticism of George Osborne’s efforts to cut the deficit, when driving at 56mph in a 50mph zone on the M62.

Mr Balls said that he had been caught “bang to rights” and paid a fine and attended a driver awareness course as he had no points on his licence and “would like to keep it that way”.

However, just two months later he was fined £350 and given three penalty points for jumping a red light near to the houses of Parliament in December 2012.

Mr Balls, who was caught on camera on both occasions, was driving home after a late night Commons sitting when he jumped the signal at 32mph in a 30mph zone.

Failing to stop at the scene of an accident carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a £5,000 fine and up to 10 penalty points.

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