Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has claimed that he attempted to resolve a speeding ticket three times with the Metropolitan Police before he was handed three points on his driving license and ordered to pay £510. The incident occurred when Welby was caught driving his Volkswagen Golf at 25mph in a 20mph zone on the Albert Embankment in central London on October 2 last year.
Welby, who admitted the offence online, was fined £300, a victim surcharge of £120, and £90 in costs. The prosecution was conducted through written evidence in a private hearing known as a single justice procedure. The conviction and punishment at Lavender Hill magistrates court took place on the same day as Welby’s intervention in the House of Lords against Rishi Sunak’s illegal migration bill.
A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace later stated that the archbishop had no idea that his case had reached the courts. The religious leader claimed that he had tried to pay the fine three times but was stonewalled due to administrative errors. The spokesperson claimed that Welby had all the paperwork to prove that he had tried to pay and that admin errors seemed to be causing the problem.
Court papers seen by the Evening Standard showed that the Metropolitan Police wrote to Welby after he triggered a speed camera while driving along the River Thames, and he admitted being behind the wheel. The notice of intended prosecution from the police was addressed to “Arch Justin Welby,” giving his home address as Lambeth Palace.
The incident has added to a tumultuous week for the Church of England’s most senior bishop. Last Saturday, Welby presided over King Charles’s coronation at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony watched by 20 million Britons and many more worldwide. On Wednesday, he attacked the government’s flagship illegal migration bill, stating that it was “morally unacceptable” and would “damage the UK’s interests and reputation at home and abroad.” Welby said that the plan put forward by Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman would not fulfil the prime minister’s pledge to “stop the boats.”