Election candidate for Gravesham admits drink drive offence
PUBLISHED: 09:27 13 January 2011
A former parliamentary candidate and council leader is said to have a "bleak future" after admitting a drink driving offence on the day of her trial.
Kathryn Smith, 51, had contested the blood sample that revealed her to have 178 milligrammes of alcohol in her blood - over twice the legal limit - following a crash on University Way, Dartford, on May 26, just days before the general election.
The Gravesham Labour candidate and former leader of Bexley Council lost the seat to the incumbent Conservative MP, Adam Holloway.
Smith changed her plea at Dartford Magistrates Court on the day of the trial on Thursday (6).
Her defence lawyer Simon Shannon said: “This is a lady of impeccable character. She served for 12 years on a council and leader of a council for four years.
“In 2009 she took voluntary redundancy from the Co-Op to run for election to parliament. She threw all her redundancy money and energy into the campaign. With 10 days to go until the election it was apparent that The Labour Party was not going to win.”
He said that day she had been running her daughter around and canvassing in between. In the evening, he said, she drunk some wine whilst doing paperwork, adding: “She has never driven drunk before and this was a one off. No other cars were involved, mercifully.”
She remained quiet but, in mitigation, her defence lawyers said she was under duress at the time of the offence because she had invested a lot of time and money into the campaign, but knew Labour would not win by that point. The mother-of-one was suspended by the party following her arrest.
Smith, who finished second in the election despite the incident, crashed her Renault Laguna into a roundabout in Bob Dunn Way and suffered a fractured vertebrae.
Supported by partner Munir Malik in the gallery, Smith, of Cambridge Avenue, Welling, sat looking pale and withdrawn as she was given a 20-month driving ban and ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £750.
Mr Shannon added: “As a result of this incident she has found herself suspended for bringing her party into disrepute. This has hit her very hard, especially having invested so much into the campaign and having been a career politician. She doesn’t know what her future holds. Frankly it looks rather bleak.”
He added that she is in financial difficulties and asked the magistrate to take this into consideration when deciding on the fine.
Smith will also attend a drink driving awareness course, which has lessened the term of her driving ban.