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Sir Ranulph Fiennes loses bid to be given driving ban

VETERAN polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has lost his bid to be given a driving ban for speeding, which he would have sat out while undertaking an expedition across Antarctica.

The 68-year-old asked a court in Inverness to disqualify him for a short period after he was caught driving at 98mph on the A9 near Daviot last year. The sanction would have expired by the time he returns from his latest adventure.

But Justice of the Peace Richard Syred rejected the plea and instead fined the explorer.

He also added penalty points to his driving licence, which leaves him facing a ban should he be caught speeding again.

Sir Ranulph, who has raised millions of pounds for charity with his treks across both polar landscapes, was caught speeding by police on June 20 last year.

He was represented in court by road traffic law specialist Graham Walker, who has acted for many well-known personalities including cricketer Shane Warne and footballers Alan Hutton, Georgios Samaras and Steven Fletcher.

Mr Walker said: "Needless to say, Sir Ranulph is particularly embarrassed by this matter which comes before the court and he has instructed me to convey this.

"He was travelling to Inverness to be involved in a public speaking event on a bright summer's day when traffic was light.

"That doesn't excuse him travelling at 98mph.

"It was a long journey from his home in Somerset and it was perhaps a lapse of concentration on his part.

"He is not present because he is currently traversing the Antarctic. He is, of course, an explorer of some note and has done a great deal of charitable work."

Mr Walker added: "Personally, he has raised £2.5 million for the Marie Curie cancer fund and in total has raised £14.5m for various charities in the UK, so he is held in high regard by society.

"He has asked that the court consider a short-term ban."

Refusing Sir Ranulph's request, Mr Syred said: "I am well aware of his adventures and I admire him for that and for what he does for charity.

"But he has broken the law and I don't think a driving ban is appropriate.

"I will fine him £450, reduced from the £600 but for his early plea and also impose five penalty points on his licence."

Sir Ranulph left the UK on December 6 last year on board the expedition's South African ice-strengthened research ship SA Agulhas.

Last month the vessel set off from South Africa for the Antarctic with his support and scientific team.

The six expedition members will begin a six-month journey to reach the Ross Sea, with their route taking them to Captain Scott's base at McMurdo Sound via the South Pole.

If successful, they will have travelled nearly 250 miles, mostly in complete darkness amid temperatures as low as -90°C.

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