Police officers who protect Royal Family could be at risk of prosecution

·2 min read
Queen Elizabeth II pictured on her 95th birthday (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II pictured on her 95th birthday (PA)

Police officers who protect the Royal Family and top politicians could be at risk of prosecution thanks to a “grey area” in Britain’s traffic laws, it has emerged.

Scotland Yard maintains a unit responsible for protecting VIPs, including specialist motorbike riders who form motorcades for senior royals including The Queen.

The officers - who travel armed - are often required to drive on the wrong side of the road, run through no-entry and one-way signs, and head towards oncoming traffic.

The manouvres are illegal for ordinary motorists, and it has emerged the specialist role of police officers does not automatically protect them from criminal prosecution.

The news emerged in an employment tribunal dispute between Scotland Yard and an officer in the “special escort group”.

The unit provides mobile armed protection for senior royals as well as senior politicians and visiting dignitaries.

Simon Hill, assistant secretary of the Met Police Federation and lead for road policing, told the tribunal that officers in the unit are “particularly vulnerable” to prosecution under traffic laws.

“This has been an unresolved matter of concern and considered by the Federation to be an area which requires government intervention”, Judge O’Neill said in a ruling at South London employment tribunal.

The officer, Martin Cox, who has brought the force to tribunal, sent an email to a sergeant in November 2018 raising concerns about the issue and asking him to “clarify our legal position”.

He highlighted a series of manoeuvres they have to undertake, often “for the sole purpose of maintaining the principal’s timetable by leaving traffic behind”, pointing out the potential dangers of them.

In response, an inspector wrote: “I believe everyone at the unit already knows where we stand. The points Martin raises are grey areas that have never been tested in the courts, so there are no legal precedents.”

In a ruling that was made public on Friday, the judge decided that the officer had a “reasonable belief” that officers were being exposed to criminal prosecution, and he had raised this with a senior officer in the public interest.

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