Manchester

Bolton MP Qureshi banned from driving

Yasmin Qureshi
Image caption Yasmin Qureshi became the second Asian woman MP in May

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi has been banned from driving for six months after admitting using her mobile phone while behind the wheel.

The Labour MP, who was not present at the hearing at Bolton Magistrates' Court, was stopped by police in Wigan Road, Bolton on 10 May.

She also pleaded guilty to driving without insurance, saying she thought the policy had been renewed.

Qureshi, who already had nine points, was fined £1,250 plus costs.

The former barrister and human rights lawyer, from Deane, become only the second Asian woman to be elected to Parliament on 6 May.

'Clearly see'

She apologised to magistrates through her solicitor, who said the MP would now have the "inconvenience" of having to use taxis and public transport.

Howard Sloane, prosecuting, told the court that she was spotted by a police officer while driving her silver Vauxhall Astra.

"He could clearly see the driver had a mobile telephone in her right hand and was speaking into it," he said.

Qureshi, 47, was stopped and her details were checked.

She was found to have no insurance, Mr Sloane said, as her policy had elapsed on 9 April. It was renewed several hours later, magistrates were told.

Ajmal Hussain, defending, said the MP had not deliberately avoided paying for insurance.

He said Qureshi thought the policy had been rolled over, as in previous years, but it had not been.

Mr Hussain said she had answered a phone call from her sister while driving because her mother was unwell.

He said Qureshi could have argued for "exceptional hardship" to try to avoid the ban, because of her job, but wanted to accept the ban and have matters dealt with.

"She is going to be inconvenienced a great deal, visiting her constituents at unsociable times, she is going to have to now take taxis and public transport," Mr Hussain said.

'Serious offence'

"She apologises to the court, she clearly regrets what's happened."

Passing sentence, magistrate Elaine Wisedale said: "No insurance is a serious offence but because of the evidence that in previous years she's been insured and we accept there may have been an oversight, this, with the relatively early guilty plea, we are prepared to reduce the fine.

"Her licence will be endorsed for each offence and she will be disqualified from driving from today under totting up, for six months."

In a statement issued after the hearing, Qureshi said: "I very much regret picking up the mobile phone and I apologise.

"Talking on a phone while driving without a hands-free set is wrong. I respect the decision of the court.

"Regarding the insurance issue, a genuine mistake has been made. I believed I was covered and I am continuing to speak to my insurance company about this matter."

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