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Tory councillor Mike Whiting banned after being caught drink driving in Mill Way, Sittingbourne

One of the county’s best-known councillors has admitted getting behind the wheel while more than twice the drink-drive limit.

Tory Mike Whiting, who represents Sheppey Division on KCC, was pulled over by police in Sittingbourne as he drove a Toyota Yaris.

Cllr Mike Whiting
Cllr Mike Whiting

Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard on Tuesday morning how the 64-year-old was stopped on the afternoon of September 14 last year in the town’s Mill Way.

Prosecutor Richard Lamb said: “Two officers were on mobile patrol at about 1.10pm and his vehicle was spotted and followed. The officers decided to stop it.

“They approached before he could exit and one officer immediately believed he was intoxicated.

“He was slurring his words and they could smell alcohol on his breath.”

Whiting is also a Swale borough councillor – representing Queenborough, Halfway and Rushenden – and a former managing editor and photographer with the KM Group.

Whiting appeared at Maidstone Magistrates' Court
Whiting appeared at Maidstone Magistrates' Court

The court heard he was unable to complete a breath test at the time because he is on medication for long Covid.

He was given a roadside swipe drug test, however, which was negative, and taken to the police station for a blood test to see if he was over the drink-drive limit.

He returned a reading of 168 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – the legal limit is 80.

Whiting was later charged with drink-driving and driving without insurance – both of which he admitted in court.

A charge of driving while unfit through drink was withdrawn by the Crown Prosecution Service after he entered his guilty plea to drink-driving.

County Hall in Maidstone
County Hall in Maidstone

Mr Lamb added: “His blood was tested and he gave a reading of 168, and he has a full clean licence and is of previous good character.”

Barrister Samir Pasha, defending Whiting, who lives in Rooks View, Bobbing, told the court his client deeply regretted the crimes.

“He’s so remorseful, he never wanted to find himself on this side of the dock,” he said.

“He has devoted a lot of working years towards the public sector and to find himself here today, he is shameful and regretful.

“He’s very remorseful he’s found himself in this position.”

He couldn’t take a breath test because he suffers from long Covid
He couldn’t take a breath test because he suffers from long Covid

The court further heard that Whiting suffers ongoing poor health – the long Covid was diagnosed in 2021, a year after he caught the virus.

In August 2020 he was also diagnosed with depression and is on temazepam and has therapy sessions to help him cope.

Last August, he was told he had bowel cancer – something which affected his depression and mental health struggles.

This was the background to him getting in the car and driving on September 14.

Mr Pasha added: “One week after [he was pulled over] he’s abstained from alcohol and he has now had to have part of his bowel removed because of the cancer and he can’t drink alcohol at all as a result.

Swale council’s headquarters in Sittingbourne
Swale council’s headquarters in Sittingbourne

“That’s since November, you won’t be finding him in this position again.

“He’s still on chemotherapy and still having treatment.

“Then just weeks later she was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage and was in hospital for some time and can no longer drive – that also affected his mental health.”

The court also heard that as a councillor, Whiting receives £2,966 per month, plus rent from some properties he owns.

Mr Pasha added: “He will now have a criminal record and this will have a huge impact on him working in the local community going forward from today.

Cllr Mike Whiting admitted drink-driving and driving without insurance
Cllr Mike Whiting admitted drink-driving and driving without insurance

“It was a lapse in judgement, he’s been struggling to deal with his cancer and depression.

“As for the no insurance, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer on August 21, and that was the day he was supposed to renew [his policy], he got scatter-minded, and simply forgot.”

Magistrates banned Whiting from driving for 17 months and fined him £684 for the drink-driving offence.

He was also fined £684 for having no insurance and his licence was endorsed. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £547 and £85 court costs.

If Whiting completes a drink-driving course, his ban will be reduced by 17 weeks.

“They approached before he could exit and one officer immediately believed he was intoxicated.”

Speaking after the hearing, a tearful Whiting said: “I have made a serious mistake and for that I am very sorry.”

Tory chief whip at County Hall, Dylan Jeffrey, has offered his backing.

He said: “As far as we are concerned, it is a private and personal matter and he has the full support of myself and the leader [Roger Gough].”

Swale council Conservative leader, Cllr Lloyd Bowen, said: "I do not condone what Mike has done but this is a private and personal matter for him and his family."

Cllr Bowen said he would not be making any further statements on the matter.

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