Tory tycoon offers ‘fine’ to escape speeding ban

Michael Samuel sits next to Princess Diana at the launch of the Child Bereavement Trust at the Royal College of Nursing in London in 1994. Picture: PA
Michael Samuel sits next to Princess Diana at the launch of the Child Bereavement Trust at the Royal College of Nursing in London in 1994. Picture: PA
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A MILLIONAIRE businessman caught speeding offered to pay a much bigger fine to a court – if he was allowed to keep his driving licence.

Former Conservative Party donor the Hon Michael Samuel offered to pay a “large” fine in return for being allowed to escape a ban for driving at 104mph.

The wealthy businessman even asked the Crown to change the speed on the charge against him to a lower figure than he was clocked at.

But Samuel – whose family has close links with Prince William – had his attempt to use his financial strength to stay on the road scuppered by Perth Justice of the Peace John Stewart.

Mr Stewart ignored his plea to keep his licence to aid his “charitable” work, banning him for two months and fining him £400.

Samuel, who lives in Hyde Park Square in London, was clocked speeding on the A9 after he overtook a police car. He was followed and recorded speeding at 104mph in the rain while the road between Perth and Inverness was busy with traffic.

The 60-year-old was cited to attend Perth’s JP Court, but in the days beforehand his agent tried to persuade the Crown to alter the speed to under 100mph.

The Crown refused and Samuel pleaded guilty on Thursday to driving at 104mph.

Solicitor Greg Smith, defending Samuel, said: “He is deeply embarrassed and ashamed. He was driving a hired vehicle, which was unfamiliar to him and on a road unfamiliar to him.

“He allowed his speed to creep up on a long stretch of road in a vehicle that was very quiet and he didn’t realise his speed. He’s deeply sorry for coming to the negative attention of police.

“He has substantial involvement with a number of national charities. His licence is crucial for his charitable and business interests. His entitlement to drive is essential for him.

“He fully understands the position he’s in and that disqualification will be uppermost in your mind,” Mr Smith said.

“I would invite you to deal with it by a larger number of penalty points and a larger fine, to keep him on the road.

“He is in a position to pay any fine within 28 days. He is in a position to pay a large fine.”

Banning Samuel, Mr Stewart said: “I take into account the conditions and the A9 is a notorious road, which has a reputation as being dangerous. I am not sure it is mitigating that you were driving an un­familiar vehicle on an unfamiliar road, yet you were still doing 104mph.

“I would have thought that was a reason for keeping your speed down … Anyone over 100mph should expect a period of disqualification.”

Samuel, whose business interests include farming and renewable energy, set up “press monitoring” organisation Full Fact in April 2010. The organisation made a lengthy submission to the Leveson inquiry calling for tighter regulation of the press. He made a fortune when he sold the Mayborn Group in a deal worth over £100 million and is the chief executive of Murex
Energy. He is a non-executive director of Poison Diaries Ltd, which publishes the Duchess of Northumberland’s novels.

Samuel’s daughter Natasha was a friend of William and Kate from St Andrews University. His wife, Julia, part of the Guinness dynasty, was one of Princess Diana’s closest friends.

Mrs Samuel set up the Child Bereavement Charity, which was launched by Diana and which boasts Prince William as its royal patron.