Driving-ban Duke said he needed his licence to help stop the end of mankind

The Duke of Norfolk, who organised the Queen's funeral, has been banned from driving for six months despite claiming he needed his licence to arrange the King's upcoming coronation and to stop "the end of mankind".

Edward Fitzalan-Howard, who is responsible for organising the State Opening of Parliament, made the latter comment in relation to his conservation work to prevent "nature's complete collapse".

The 65-year-old hardly inspired sympathy from the presiding magistrate when he said he told officers he had "not been aware of going through the red light but accepted this was because he was using his mobile phone" to communicate with his wife.

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Prosecutors said he was stopped by police on April 7 after driving his BMW through a red light in Battersea, south-west London.

The court heard the duke had already totted up nine penalty points on his driving licence from two previous speeding offences in 2019, meaning a further six points would lead to a ban.

The highest-ranking duke in England argued he would suffer "exceptional hardship" if he was disqualified, highlighting his official duties.

But a bench of magistrates, chaired by Judith Way, endorsed his licence with six points and banned him from driving for six months.

"We accept that this a unique case because of the defendant's role in society and in particular in relation to the King's coronation," said Ms Way. "The hardship needs to be exceptional and although we find inconvenience may be caused, we don't find it exceptional hardship. We consider alternative means of hardship are available."

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The Duke, who is the most senior lay member of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, was also fined £800 and ordered to pay another £400 in other costs.

He gave evidence for more than 30 minutes in private after magistrates ruled the media and public should be excluded from court for reasons of "national security".

It followed an application from his lawyer Natasha Dardashti, who said details of the coronation, which had not yet been discussed with the King, Prime Minister Liz Truss or Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, should remain private until after the event.

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