Sunday, 29 May 2011

Huhne - the car's the key

Let's take a hypothetical situation and see how we should go about solving a mystery. The situation is this. A man has been in in France for a few days and flies back to England, landing at Stansted airport at about 10.23pm. The same evening his wife is at a function at the London School of Economics, the function commenced at 6.30pm and she is believed to have left by 10pm at the latest. At 11.23 the same evening a motor car registered to the man is photographed speeding on a road between Stansted and London. Either the man or his wife was driving the car at the time the speeding offence was committed. The mystery is to identify which of them was driving.

How do we solve the mystery? I know how I would go about it, I would not look at the people first but at the car.

Where was the car while the man was in France? On the face of it there are two relevant possibilities, either it was parked at the airport awaiting his return or it was not. Is there a record of cars parked at the airport during the period he was abroad and, if so, was his car parked there throughout or was it removed at some point? If it was there all the time the only chance of the wife driving it back to town from the airport would be by her taking the train to Stansted (say 20 minutes to get to Liverpool Street station and at least a further 45 minutes to Stansted). Quite why she would do so rather than let him drive back is unclear, because the time it would take her to get there is as long as the flight from France so it would have to have been arranged before he left the continent.

If there is no evidence of the car being at Stansted throughout I would investigate whether the London congestion charge was levied against the car during the period he was abroad, if it was we know the car was within central London and not at Stansted. Was the congestion charge levied on the day in question? The London School of Economics is within the congestion charge zone, so the charge will have been triggered if the wife had it with her while she was at the college, though her options for parking would have been severely limited unless she was given a spot by the college itself - was she?

I would then ask whether the wife had her own car at the time. If she did, it would seem more natural for her to use her own vehicle to collect her husband. Wives often, but not invaiably, use their husband's cars to collect their worse half only when he wants to drive back - men being so much more fussy than women about what they drive.

Trying to solve the mystery by reference to where the wife was at various points of time on a date more than eight years ago is fraught with difficulties because of the need to rely on personal recollections. The car is the key.


Barnacle Bill said...

Instead of cherchez la femme it's où est la voiture?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Those seem like a few sensible ideas, I'm sure there's other stuff you could look for.

james c said...

I don't see how anything can prove that the wife wasn't driving unless she is placed elsewhere.

james c said...

I don't see how anything can prove that the wife wasn't driving unless she is placed elsewhere.