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Former council leader opts for trial for drink-drive charge

PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 July 2010 | UPDATED: 18:06 25 August 2010

A FORMER Labour Party candidate at the general election has failed in a bid to get her drink-drive court case moved out of the county.

A FORMER Labour Party candidate at the general election has failed in a bid to get her drink-drive court case moved out of the county.

Kathryn Smith, 50, of Cambridge Avenue, Welling, once the leader of Bexley council, appeared at Dartford Magistrates Court on Tuesday accused of being more than twice over the legal limit when she crashed her Renault Laguna at a roundabout on University Way, Dartford, on April 26.

Her solicitor asked for the case to be transferred to another area due to possible "bias", because she was so well-known locally. They plan to dispute the blood sample.

Defending Mr Richard Storey said Miss Smith who stood for the Labour Party in Gravesham in May, had been "active in political circles for a very considerable time."

He added: "As such, she has received considerable press coverage over the last 12 years, both as a candidate and as a councillor in the Bexley area for 12 years, four as leader."

He claimed someone in the court public gallery might be concerned that knowledge of her background could influence court decisions.

After a short adjournment, magistrates' chairperson Deborah Cowland said: "In the interests of justice we feel we can go ahead and that we will be totally impartial."

Mr Storey then said Miss Smith, who was also deputy mayor of Bexley, intended to plead not guilty because she disputes the sample and asked for the case to go to trial. The case was adjourned until August 5 and she was released on bail.

Miss Smith is alleged to have had 178 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal drink-drive limit is 80 milligrammes.

She has been suspended by the Labour Party while the case continues. At the general election, Ms Smith went on to finish second behind Tory Adam Holloway getting 13,644 votes.


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