Leeds & West Yorkshire

Harry Whitlam: Brexit 'holding up drink-drive law change'

Pam Whitlam
Image caption Harry's mother Pam Whitlam said Brexit uncertainty had stalled a change in the law relating to drinking and driving offences

A mother whose child was killed by a drunken tractor driver on private land says Brexit has got in the way of changing the law.

Harry Whitlam died after Gary Green, 51, reversed the vehicle into him at Swithens Farm, near Leeds, in 2013.

Green had to be prosecuted under health and safety law and he was jailed for 16 months.

Harry's mother Pam Whitlam says she wants the law changed to cover drinking and driving on private property.

Leeds Crown Court was told in December 2016 Green must have consumed the equivalent of 13 pints of beer before going to bed at 02:00 BST on the morning of the accident.

Miss Whitlam, who worked at the farm's cafe, said: "We were invited to meet to meet transport minister Jesse Norman and we explained our idea for a change in the law

"Then suddenly everything gets put on hold for Brexit, everything that was so positive gets stopped because of Brexit,

"It is frustrating this has happened.

"The whole [Brexit] situation has put a halt to this.

"We're hoping these changes in law can be put into the next parliament and be treated as a priority."

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Harry Whitlam was knocked down by a tractor driven by Gary Green at Swithens Farm in West Yorkshire

Lawyer Amy Clowery who is dealing with Ms Whitlam's call for a change in the law said: "In other offences, criminal behaviour whether on public or private land, would be prosecuted.

" We started campaign to change the law, but Brexit came along and scuppered this,

Image caption Harry had been walking towards a worker in a closed-off area of the farm when Green backed the tractor into him

"We are hoping when a new government comes along it will make this [change in the law] one of their priorities."

"We are also coming up to Christmas and with the issue of drinking and driving we want people to really think about that action of having one too many."

In May 2019 Jesse Norman the Minister of State at the Department for Transport wrote to Ms Whitlam's MP Alec Shelbrooke saying:

Extending the scope of road traffic legislation is a complex matter and officials in the Department are continuing to consider the implications of any change.

In my last letter I mentioned the Road Safety Strategy. We expect this to be published soon and I will keep you up to date. I would like to assure you that the Department is determined to do what it can to avoid this sort of tragedy happening in the future.

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