‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: Up to ‘500’ drivers wrongly fined over ‘fake’ 50mph sign error as Met police investigate

13 February 2024, 11:13 | Updated: 13 February 2024, 11:16

Up to 500 drivers have been wrongly fined over a 'fake' 50mph speed limit sign

By Jenny Medlicott

Up to 500 drivers have been wrongly fined after a ‘fake’ 50mph sign was placed in a 40pmh zone.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The speed sign was erected on the A20 in Sidcup, south east London, showing that drivers could travel up to 50mph despite the actual speed limit being 40mph.

Hundreds of drivers have been left furious after receiving fines as a result of the fake sign.

Dominic Smith, director at Patterson Law, the biggest national firm specialising in motoring offences, said he’s never seen a response like it.

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, he said: “I haven’t ever seen anything quite like this, on this magnitude.

“We’ve been contacted in the last week by about 400 or 500 individuals, of which about 100 to 150 are at risk of losing their licenses because of this.

“Usually when a new speed camera goes up, we can tell here because we get maybe about two or three enquiries a day for a couple of days - 40 to 50 a day we’re getting at the moment. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The speed limit had been set at 40mph on the A20 in response to safety concerns due to surface water flooding, which TfL said posed a “serious risk to road users”.

Read more: Sunak vows to build hundreds of thousands of homes as PM says he 'accepts people's anger' over home ownership

Read more: Harry and Meghan's new Sussex website that doesn't mention monarchy ‘would have infuriated the Queen’, critics say

Drivers are trying to appeal the fines.
Drivers are trying to appeal the fines. Picture: Alamy

An investigation has been launched into the incident as an attempt to ‘pervert the court of justice’, the Met Police said in a statement.

However, the force has said that it is satisfied that the fines issued are still “within the law” as there were several other speeding signs with the correct limit in the area.

Many drivers have disputed the Met’s claim, however, as Mr Smith said: “Most of the people, in fact pretty much all of the people I’ve been speaking with, have said that the signs are too small, they’re unlit, some of them are obscured by trees and there was a road 50 halfway through.

“So that is going to be a decision for the court on each invidual case, as to whether that was so sufficient to notify the drivers of the limit.”

Speaking to LBC on Monday, one caller revealed that they are at risk of losing their job as a result of the speeding offence.

Asked how drivers in a similar position should approach the offence, Mr Smith said: “When those cases go to court, they’re going to have to make a decision of either whether they plead not guilty and challenge it, but if they do and they lose, they could lose credit and that’s going to increase their risk of a ban.

“Or when their case gets to could, they could plead guilty, maintain maximum credit - maixmum sympathy with the court - and then try to avoid a disqualification.”

A TfL spokesman said in a statement: "Safety is our number one priority and we have temporarily introduced a 40mph speed limit on the A20 Sidcup Road due to ongoing surface water flooding which has caused a number of safety concerns and serious risk to road users.

"The reduced speed limit has been introduced in response to that risk. Major work is required to put in place permanent measures to tackle flooding here and we are working to do this as soon as possible. We plan to begin construction work on these measures in May.

"TfL wants to ensure that all drivers are treated fairly and speed limit signage was installed to reflect the new limit.

"TfL reviewed the signage at this location and found that an incorrect 50mph sign had been recently placed at this location by an unauthorised third party. This has been replaced with the correct 40mph signage and TfL is investigating how the incorrect sign was installed."