Up to 500 motorists are seeking to overturn speeding fines after a fake 50mph sign was placed on a dual carriageway in south London.
Hundreds of drivers were ticketed on the A20 near Sidcup on a stretch of the road where the speed limit had been temporarily dropped to 40mph by Transport for London.
Officials say the 50mph sign was installed by an “unauthorised third party” after speed cameras were set to match the lowered limit.
The cameras are believed to have generated hundreds of automatic fines and penalty points to drivers who were guided by the incorrect sign.
Dominic Smith, a solicitor and director of specialist motoring firm Patterson Law, said he and his colleagues had been contacted by hundreds of affected drivers.
“I haven’t ever seen anything quite like this, on this magnitude,” he said.
“We’ve been contacted in the last week by about 400 or 500 individuals, of which about 100 to 150 are at risk of losing their licences because of this,” he told LBC.
“Usually when a new speed camera goes up, we can tell here because we get maybe about two or three enquiries a day for a couple of days – 40 to 50 a day we’re getting at the moment. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
TfL claimed the offending 50mph sign was installed by “an unauthorised third party” in January.
“TfL reviewed the signage at this location and found that an incorrect 50mph sign had been recently placed at this location by an unauthorised third party.
“This has been replaced with the correct 40mph signage and TfL is investigating how the incorrect sign was installed.”
The Metropolitan Police said it was investigating an attempt to “pervert the course of justice” over the 50mph sign’s installation, while claiming its presence made no difference to the speeding fines already issued.
“If a motorist were to have travelled through the section that is signed as 40mph at the maximum permitted speed of 40mph, then sped up to 50mph after seeing the now removed 50mph sign, their average speed of the section covered by cameras would not have resulted in them being issued with a speeding ticket,” a spokesman said.
Twelve local MPs have written to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, urging him to cancel the fines.
“Your communication of this ‘temporary’ change has been poor, with a combination of email enquiries and freedom of information requests being the main way in which the public have been informed of this change,” said the letter, spearheaded by Louie French, the MP for Bexley.
“TfL have been quick to fine hundreds of drivers but slow to actually improve road safety on the A20,” said French. “The Mayor and TfL must urgently review this situation.”
A TfL spokesman said in a statement: “Safety is our number one priority and we have temporarily introduced a 40mph speed limit on the A20 Sidcup Road due to ongoing surface water flooding which has caused a number of safety concerns and serious risk to road users.
“The reduced speed limit has been introduced in response to that risk. Major work is required to put in place permanent measures to tackle flooding here and we are working to do this as soon as possible. We plan to begin construction work on these measures in May.”
The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points. Drivers with 12 penalty points are banned from the road under a procedure known as “totting up”.