Inquiry launched to look at how the justice system serves cyclists

Kate Cairns, LIb Dem candidate for Longhoughton
Kate Cairns, LIb Dem candidate for Longhoughton

A mother who launched a road-safety campaign after her beloved sister was run down from behind and killed by a lorry has said that an inquiry looking at how the justice system serves cyclists is very welcome, but long overdue.

And Kate Cairns, from Newton-by-the-Sea, has urged as many people as possible to take part in the review, by submitting feedback before next week’s deadline.

Eilidh Cairns.

Eilidh Cairns.

In February 2009, Kate’s sister Eilidh, from Ellingham, was killed as she cycled to work through Notting Hill Gate, in London. The experienced cyclist was hit from behind and crushed by a tipper truck on a straight, two-lane section of road.

The driver, Joao Correia-Lopes, said he didn’t see her. He was fined and given three penalty points for driving without corrected vision.

In 2012, he was jailed for four years for causing the death by dangerous driving of 97-year-old Nora Gutmann.

The tragedy compelled Kate to launch the See Me Save Me (SMSM) campaign in 2010, to tackle the issue of blindspots in HGVs.

Now, the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG) is conducting an inquiry called Cycling and the Justice System.

The select committee-styled inquiry will seek the views and experiences of cycling organisations, Government departments and ministers, individuals and members of the public on whether the current judicial system is serving all cyclists.

The group is calling for cyclists who have been involved in road-traffic incidents, or friends and families who have sought justice in their absence, to participate in the public inquiry which will run until Tuesday, February 28.

The APPCG will run four oral evidence sessions in January and February on numerous issues. There are: Road users and victims; enforcement and investigation; criminal law; and driver awareness and civil justice.

The APPCG says that there are a number of issues which could be investigated, such as should there be a revision of careless/dangerous driving charging standards.

Kate, county councillor for Longhoughton, said: “The review is very welcome, but long overdue. Eilidh’s case highlighted the multiple failures in the justice system – and that was eight years ago.

“The CPS refused to acknowledge that the driver had any part to play in my sister’s death despite her being run over from behind and his failed eyesight, and the coroner said it was just an ‘unfortunate accident’ and was ignorant of the many preventative measures which could be put in place.

“All of this resulted in the driver being allowed back on the road and running over and killing a second victim. That left three victims of the system.

“Families have shared with me numerous stories of outrage and frustration at the justice system. I urge those with bad experiences to report these to the inquiry.

“SMSM has three strands: To challenge industry, policy and justice. We have made massive strides in changing industry and policy with new national standards. Improving the justice system is notoriously difficult, but we will continue until the justice system is fit for purpose.”

To submit evidence to the inquiry, email your comments to coffmana@parliament.uk

Submit a maximum of two pages of A4 and choose no more than five issues that you consider are the most important for the APPCG to consider in this inquiry. Use APPCG Justice Inquiry as the subject of the email and the deadline for submitting evidence is on Monday.