Convicted middle-lane hogger slams police

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A painter and decorator who became the first British motorist to be prosecuted for middle-lane hogging has criticised police, claiming that they singled him out because he was "a white van man".

Ian Stephens, 42, from Shevington near Wigan, was pulled over on the M62 in West Yorkshire after being observed refusing to return to the left lane despite having ample opportunity to do so.

Finding him guilty of careless driving, Leeds Magistrates' Court fined Stephens £500 and ordered him to pay £400 in costs and a £40 victim surcharge, as well as endorsing his licence with five penalty points.

The court heard that Stephens had been driving his Citroen Berlingo van in an "inconsiderate manner" and had forced at least six other drivers to brake and then overtake him.

However, speaking to the Daily Mail, Stephens claimed that he was only one of many using the middle lane.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw a police car tuck in behind me and turn on his lights. I pulled over but was shocked when he told me he thought I should have pulled over into the inside lane," he said.

"I think the officers were simply trying to raise their tally for the day and saw a white van man and decided to nail me simply because they could."

Stephens went on to say that he had been treated like a "common criminal".

A change in the law in 2013 made it easier for police to penalise motorists driving in an anti-social manner, including middle-lane hogging and tailgating, through the use of a fixed penalty notice.

Though some motorists argue that middle-lane hogging is harmless, experts agree that it increases the risk of accidents, forces drivers into potentially dangerous situations and dramatically reduces motorway capacity, leading to delays.

Do you think the police are right to target middle-lane hoggers? Have your say in the comments section below.