Nilgun Canver trial: Jury warned it must be ‘absolutely sure’ Haringey councillor lied to police
17:09 29 January 2014
The jurors in the trial of senior Haringey councillor Nilgun Canver have been told they must be “absolutely sure” she lied to deflect police attention away from her joyriding son before they can convict her of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Cllr Canver has admitted telling PC Steve Tutton she was behind the wheel of her BMW when it crashed in Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham, last year – knowing it was her uninsured 23-year-old son, Burak, who was to blame.
She says she corrected her knee-jerk claim within 60 seconds, and had said it out of motherly instinct when being questioned at the scene that night.
Judge Robert Morrison told the jury that the nub of the case was the conversation between the councillor and the policeman.
“It is not a defence that she told the truth to the police a short time later, however quickly that might have been,” he said. “It is not a defence that she was upset at the time.”
But he said jurors had to be “sure” beyond reasonable doubt that she intended to pervert the course of justice by claiming to be the driver.
Referring to the police log of the incident, the judge identified a seven-minute window between PC Tutton noting that he was going to see the person pointed out to him as the driver – Cllr Canver – and requesting another patrol car be sent to the family home in Mattison Road, Harringay, to find her son.
“Within seven minutes PC Tutton now knew that the defendant was no longer maintaining that she was the driver,” he said.
He also said jurors must “not lose sight of” Cllr Canver’s “exemplary character”.
Referring to Tottenham MP David Lammy’s appearance in court for the defence last week, he added: “There are not many people who would have their MP come along to give a statement as to their character and is prepared to back it up if it came to pass. And it was a glowing reference.”
He said it was now for jurors to decide on the intent behind her lie to the police officer, and whether she was co-operative when questioned or if the truth had to be “dragged out of her” by the PC.
The councillor denies claims by both the victim and his brother that before police arrived, she told them she had been driving and that she offered to pay them off to avoid getting police involved.
She also denies being unco-operative with PC Tutton, deliberately giving vague answers about whether her son was insured on her car, whether she gave him permission to drive it that night, and his whereabouts after the accident.
The jury has retired to deliberate on its verdict.