Slow down, Minister... Harriet Harman caught speeding for second time


Last updated at 20:25 08 September 2007

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman is facing fresh embarrassment after being caught speeding - for the second time.

Ms Harman last night said she had "pleaded guilty by post" to avoid a court appearance next week.

The offence comes after she was banned from driving for seven days and fined £400 in February 2003 for speeding at 99mph on a motorway.

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On that occasion Ms Harman also pleaded guilty by post and her lawyer told North West Wiltshiremagistrates in Chippenham: "She is, of course, extremely sorry for exceeding the limit on this occasion and does not seek to make any excuse."

After the fine was imposed the AA described it as "lenient" considering her then £125,000 annual salary.

The latest speeding offence will be especially uncomfortable for lawyer Ms Harman, 57, who, until she succeeded John Prescott as deputy leader in June, was Solicitor-General, one of the Government's top law officers.

Details of the offence, including where the incident took place and how fast Ms Harman was driving, are not known.

The Mail on Sunday understands that the case is to be dealt with by a court in Ipswich on September 18.

It is expected that Ms Harman will apologise to Gordon Brown but Labour sources say there is no question of her losing her job.

It is thought Ms Harman may have been caught speeding during the three months she spent touring the country in the spring garnering support for her bid to become Mr Brown's deputy.

She narrowly defeated Cabinet rival Alan Johnson.

However, she was immediately snubbed when Mr Brown refused to give her Mr Prescott's title of Deputy Prime Minister.

It was seen as a sign of lack of confidence in Ms Harman, dubbed "Hopeless Hattie" by Labour enemies who question her judgment.

Mr Brown is not the first Labour leader to find himself embarrassed by Ms Harman.

In 1996, just before Tony Blair became Prime Minister, Ms Harman caused a major furore when it was revealed she had sent one of her sons to a grammar school, in defiance of Labour policy.

Mr Blair rejected Labour demands to sack her.

Ms Harman was involved in another legal row in 2005 when her sister Sarah, a prominent family lawyer, was ordered to pay costs of £25,000 and forced to step down as a judge after being found guilty of passing secret documents to her sister.

At the time Ms Harman was Solicitor General. Her sister was found guilty of contempt for "conduct unbefitting a solicitor".

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