South Leeds: Call to change the law in Harry’s name

Harry Whitlam.
Harry Whitlam.
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The family of an 11-year-old boy hit and killed by a tractor have called for a change in the law which prevents over the limit drivers from being prosecuted when driving on private roads.

The driver was reversing his tractor and slurry trailer on Swithens Farm, in Rothwell, on August 9, 2013 when it struck Harry Whitlam, causing fatal injuries.

He was flown to Leeds General Infirmary by Yorkshire Air Ambulance, but despite all efforts made, Harry died from his injuries.


A police investigation revealed that the driver of the tractor was more than twice the legal drink drive limit, however, due to a loophole in the law, he could not be prosecuted because the accident took place on private, rather than public land.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, a criminal prosecution can only take place if the accident takes place “on a road or other public place”.

Now the family, with the help of solicitors Switalskis who represented the family at Harry’s inquest, are hoping to create Whitlam’s Law - where there is no distinction between private or public land if someone is found to be in charge of a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Pamela Whitlam, Harry’s mum, said: “We are hoping to change the law as I don’t believe there to be any difference that if someone is drink driving, where ever they are, they should be prosecuted - whether they are on public land or private.

“There is a big loophole in the legal system and it is completely wrong.

“I don’t want Harry to be used as an example for drivers to get out of being prosecuted.

The heartbroken mum added: “I would much rather see Harry’s name used to save people’s lives, close this legal loophole and change the law than be used to acquit drivers, leaving them to re-offend.”

A jury inquest into Harry’s death held in July this year, returned a narrative verdict.