Rangers captain James Tavernier has claimed he feels ‘vindicated’ after being cleared of dangerous driving.
James Tavernier, 31, told a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court that he was treated “unfairly” by police officers in April 21, 2021.
Tavernier was stopped by two constables who had followed the defender and teammate Jack Simpson, 25, from Crow Road and Anniesland Road in the city’s west end to Canniesburn Toll in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire.
They claimed that he was going at “excessive speed” and one officer stated to the trial that the players were “racing” each other.
Tavernier denied the single charge claiming that he conducts himself to “set an example on and off the pitch.”
He was found not guilty by Sheriff Kevin McCarron.
Simpson pled guilty in May 2022 to careless driving for his part in the incident and was fined £920 and given five penalty points.
Following the end of the trial, Tavernier’s lawyer Aamer Anwar gave a statement.
He said: “Mr Tavernier feels completely vindicated, he could have taken the easy option when he was offered a fixed penalty but he always maintained his innocence and believed he did nothing wrong.
“As far as he is concerned that is the matter now over and he is grateful to his legal team.”
The court heard from Tavernier who stated in his evidence that he was driving home from Ibrox after a match.
He said that he was at a set of lights beside teammate Simpson and in front of ex-manager Steven Gerrard.
John Scullion KC, defending, asked Tavernier how football players are expected to act in front of their manager.
He replied: “With respect and conduct yourself in a good manner.”
Mr Scullion asked: “Does that extend to the way you drive?”
Tavernier responded: “It’s the way of life on and off the pitch is to set an example.”
Tavernier stated that the first set of lights were red when he came to a stop approaching Anniesland Cross.
The Gers skipper denied hearing or seeing sirens or blue lights.
Mr Scullion asked what he would have done if he had.
He replied: “Slowed down and moved to let anyone on the outside lane come in.”
Tavernier stated that he later passed a police van which “did not react” to his manner of driving.
He then claimed that as he approached a roundabout at Canniesburn Toll, a different police car pulled in front of him.
Tavernier said: “As I went to the roundabout blue lights came on and I was stopped going through it.”
He stated he was approached by PC Ross Birrell who told him that it took him driving in excess of 80mph to catch up with the Gers star.
Tavernier said: “I asked if he had dash cam footage checking on my speed.
“I said ‘it’s not fair you are saying I’m speeding when I wasn’t’.
“I said ‘it was my word against your word’ and he said ‘yes’.”
Tavernier stated that he refused the careless driving fixed penalty of £100 and three points.
He added: “I didn’t think it was fair, I believed I wasn’t speeding – I’ve been driving for 13 years and had no points – I think I’m safe on the road.
“What he was saying – it doesn’t feel fair.”
Prosecutor Gail Campbell asked if Tavernier thought the police officers were lying.
He replied: “My evidence is I was not speeding at all.”
PC Birrell earlier told the court that he could hear Tavernier and Simpson’s engines revving approaching the red light.
He added that the vehicles “revved harshly” at two sets of traffic lights which changed to green.
It was stated that the vehicles drove off on a straight stretch of road and that the officer was going at 80mph to try and catch up with them.
He added that both Simpson and Tavernier’s cars were going in “convoy or tandem” with each other.
The officer further admitted that he did not have dashcam footage of the incident.
PC Mark Ross also claimed the pair were going “in tandem” and when asked what he meant he replied: “Racing one another.”
Sheriff Kevin McCarron said: “I have to make a decision whether I’m satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that you have travelled at speed in excess of the roadway.
“I have to do that in the knowledge that two of the officers gave only opposing information as to the speed you were traveling at.
“I am being asked to draw inference from that, that you have travelled at speed.
“In the absence of the information of the speed you were doing at that point then I can’t guess what speed you were travelling at based on the speed someone says they were doing.
“There were other aspects of inconsistencies in the officers’ evidence…and these inconsistencies me cause for hesitation and a reasonable doubt of the full events that evening.
“These are circumstances in which I need to give you benefit of the doubt and I find you not guilty.”
Tavernier replied: “Thank you.”