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Police reject appeals of almost 600 drivers tricked by fake 50mph sign on A20

By Mathilda Bartholomew | February 15, 2024

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An "unauthorised third party" installed a false 50mph sign on January 24, resulting in automatic fines and penalty points for numerous motorists who unknowingly adhered to the incorrect sign

Police reject appeals of almost 600 drivers tricked by fake 50mph sign on A20

The Metropolitan Police has declared that approximately 600 drivers seeking to contest fines for speeding, following the placement of a fake 50mph sign on a dual carriageway in south-east London, will not have their penalties waived.

The incident occurred on the A20 near Sidcup, where the speed limit had been temporarily reduced from 70mph to 40mph by Transport for London due to persistent flooding.

An "unauthorised third party" installed a false 50mph sign on January 24, resulting in automatic fines and penalty points for numerous motorists who unknowingly adhered to the incorrect sign.

While acknowledging that the unauthorised sign should not have been present, the Metropolitan Police insists it “would not have impacted" the enforcement of the 40mph average speed limit.

Despite calls from twelve local MPs urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel the fines, the police maintain that the sign's location would not have impacted the speed limit enforcement.

Jonathan Devito, a professional driver, fell victim to the deceptive sign. With three points already on his license, he now faces the threat of a driving ban after receiving three penalty notices for using the A20.

He told BBC News: “When you know that you’re going to lose your licence, your income.

“I didn’t want to tell the wife, I didn’t want to go out. It was just dreadful.” 

Solicitor Dominic Smith of Patterson Law, specialising in motoring offenses, reported an unprecedented influx of inquiries from 600 affected drivers, with over 150 facing potential bans.

He said: “I haven’t ever seen anything quite like this, on this magnitude.

“Usually when a new speed camera goes up, we can tell here because we get maybe about two or three enquiries a day for a couple of days – 40 to 50 a day we’re getting at the moment. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

A Scotland Yard spokesperson stated “Our prosecutions team, which deals with speeding offences, has taken legal advice and the location of the 50mph sign would not have impacted the enforcement.”

The police asserted that if a driver had initially adhered to the 40mph speed limit in the designated section and later increased their speed to 50mph upon encountering the subsequently removed fake sign, their average speed on that stretch would not have led to the issuance of a speeding ticket.

The installation of the fraudulent 50mph sign is under investigation as a potential act to obstruct the course of justice.

A Transport for London spokesman said: “Safety is our number one priority and we have temporarily introduced a 40mph speed limit on the A20 Sidcup Road due to ongoing surface water flooding which has caused a number of safety concerns and serious risk to road users.

“The reduced speed limit has been introduced in response to that risk. Major work is required to put in place permanent measures to tackle flooding here and we are working to do this as soon as possible. We plan to begin construction work on these measures in May.”

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