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A campaign called Whitlam’s Law to change the drink driving laws to cover both public and private land has gathered momentum after an MP has spoken on the matter in Parliament.
The campaign, called Whitlam’s Law, is being led by Amy Clowrey, a solicitor within the child abuse department at Switalskis. Whitlam’s Law was launched after the death of an 11-year-old boy, Harry Whitlam, who was killed by a drunk driver on private land. The CPS were unable to prosecute and the HSE had to step in and bring charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The driver who killed Harry Whitlam, Gary Green, was given a 16 month custodial sentence instead of what would have likely been a six-year sentence. Additionally, the Whitlam family had to wait over three years for the result as it was a private prosecution.
Alec Shelbrooke, a Conservative MP for Elmet & Rothwell, addressed the House of Commons on Thursday 13 July, saying: “The death of 11-year old Harry Whitlam in 2013 stunned the communities I represent, but it was the lack of prosecution that shocked us to the core. Harry died after the tractor reversed into him at Swithens Farm in Rothwell.
“An inquest later heard that the driver was almost three times over the legal alcohol limit on the day of the crash. He was not prosecuted at the time as the incident happened on private land.
“This case has highlighted an anomaly in the law. Because Harry’s killer was operating a vehicle on private land whilst under the influence of alcohol he could not be prosecuted in the same way he would have been had the incident happened on a public highway. There is an urgent need for parity of esteem when it comes to causing death by dangerous driving whether on public of private land.”
Switalskis’ campaign report can be found here.