Unanswered questions about the killing of Alan Neve

Left: The killer, Barry Meyer. Right: The victim: Alan Neve. Picture credit: Daily Mirror

Alan Neve was killed at 9:25 on 15.7.13. A tragedy that should never have happened for two reasons:

1. No-one should be forced to ride a bicycle on what is effectively a death trap. At the time, Camden Council was banning the use of a relatively much safer route, egged on by Transport for London, which was concerned that it would delay bus schedules.Camden Council was warned repeatedly of the inevitable consequences but they waited until someone was killed before opening the Vernon Place bus lane to bicycles.

2. The killer, Barry Meyer, should have never been in charge of a construction lorry, indeed of any motor vehicle, that morning. Not only Meyer did not hold a HGV licence, and therefore was uninsured, but he had shown in the past to have a total disregard of the law and of the safety of other road users; here is a brief summary of his previous convictions (omitting convictions for assault, criminal damage and drugs):

Source: Ross Lydall

How can someone with such a record be allowed to be in charge of a tipper lorry and drive in busy London streets, mingling with people on bicycles? This is a system failure of such enormity that goes well beyond the behaviour of a rogue driver.

Here are some key question

  • Who gave the keys of the lorry to Meyer?
  • What steps are in place to prevent someone without a licence to operate a commercial vehicle?
  • Why is someone with Meyer’s record not banned from the haulage industry? Can you imagine a GP with a similar record allowed to practice?
  • What investigation has HSE undertaken? HSE infamously refuses to investigate corporate misbehaviour on public roads, but Meyer must have operated on corporate sites as well, endangering the lives of other workers.
  • Why is TfL’s CLOCS scheme voluntary in an industry notoriously plagued by rogue traders?
  • Why is Camden Council not addressing the Holborn gyratory with urgency, in spite of five people being killed while riding their bicycles here?

The Judge will be sentencing Meyer next month, and has warned him that he faces a jail term; we all know how inadequate the maximum terms for Causing Death by Careless Driving are and how ludicrous the rules are that stipulate that he can expend his driving ban while sitting in jail. However this is a case of catastrophic regulatory failure, well beyond the inadequacies of the Justice System.

We will probing the authorities with our questions, until we see a wholesale change of attitudes on how to deal with traffic violence.

UPDATE 15.05.15. Meyer has been sentenced to 42 months and banned for ten years. Incredibly, the Police will not be prosecuting AJ Drummond, the company who allowed Meyer to drive the lorry. The judge said: “Heaven knows why the lorry owners let you drive that vehicle without checking and seeing whether you had a proper HGV licence,”

UPDATE: The London Cycling Campaign has written to Nick Denton, Traffic Commissioner, asking him  to revoke AJ Drummond’s licence.

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