Lib Dem: How I escaped driving ban after a night out in my Porsche with Bonnie Tyler

Thursday, 9th May 2013

Cllr Braithwaite is now the Town Hall cycling champion

Published: 9 May, 2013

A LIBERAL Democrat councillor has revealed how he escaped a driving ban after being stopped for speeding in his Porsche following a night out with the United Kingdom’s Eurovision contender Bonnie Tyler.

Now more familiarly seen on a bicycle, rather than at the wheel of a sports car – he is the Town Hall’s cycling champion who has spearheaded several road safety campaigns – Paul Braithwaite told of how he escaped being barred from the roads after a barrister argued he needed his car for work as a record company marketing man.

But the bizarre story of why he was late to court to defend himself back in 1976 was only revealed this week, as Cllr Braithwaite recalled the night police pulled him over after a heady night in Herefordshire.

“At the age of 29, in 1975, I moved jobs from EMI Records to RCA Records as marketing director.

"In the spring of 1976 we had a big hit with Bonnie Tyler’s first single, Lost In France,” he said.

“She looked and proved to be a very promising pop star.

"In July 1976, I met her for dinner at the then quite famous restaurant called The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny.

"She was about an hour late for an early dinner and her excuse was: ‘I had to cook fish and chips for my husband’s tea’.

“After the meal I drove her in my Porsche to The Crystal Ballroom in Hereford.

"She duly performed – and was a dire mover – and I didn’t get away until well after 1am.

"The Hereford to Worcester road is a real switchback challenge. As I was congratu­lating myself on surviving it, I noted a police ‘Noddy’ car was following me.

"Within a mile he pulled me over. I was furious and my opening words probably done for me: ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’.

"I was charged with doing 34 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone, after 2am.”

Cllr Braithwaite recalled the incident after seeing Tyler, who became best known for her hit, Total Eclipse Of The Heart, had been picked to fly the flag for the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo next week.

The councillor for Cantelowes ward told how he had already had “nine points on my licence because the Porsche attracted quite a bit of attention in those days”.

He added: “I elected to go to court and I retained a barrister. My written affidavit maintained that I need my driving licence for my job to attend live
perfor­mances and concerts.”

But Cllr Braithwaite was not in court to argue his case, and again the excuse comes with a sprinkling of showbiz stardust.

“When the date came around I was delayed by the overnight arrival of RCA’s international director,” he said.

“He had flown in to fire the then managing director for having signed The Sex Pistols, which disgusted the RCA directors in America. The Sex Pistols were subsequently ditched and went to Virgin.

“I was fired that morning for being part of the team.

"Bob Summer wasn’t amused by my saying: ‘I didn’t think anyone actually said: ‘I’m going to have to let you go’. But he made me late and I had to race at well over the speed limit in the Porsche across to Cotswolds to get to Worcester Court on time that lunchtime.

"Fortunately, my barrister spoke for me and the magistrate did not put me on the stand.

"I got off with a big fine and kept my licence. Since ditching the Porsche, I’ve only acquired three points in the last 35 years.”

Cllr Braithwaite, who went on to work for Saatchi, was elected to the Town Hall in 2006.

“Bonnie Tyler is 61 and trying to look a lot younger,” he said. “But still with the same husband after 40 years.”

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