Fury as Labour peer jailed for texting at the wheel minutes before fatal crash to be freed after serving just 17 days

A Labour peer jailed for texting at the wheel shortly before ploughing into a car and killing its driver was yesterday freed after Appeal Court judges decided his case was 'exceptional'.

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, 51, will walk free from prison this morning after serving 16 days of his 12-week sentence for dangerous driving.

But Lady Justice Hallett said the court would not quash the prison sentence, insisting there was 'not one law for the rich and powerful and one law for the rest'.

She also warned motorists they faced jail for texting while driving, adding: 'We hope the message goes out that texting at the wheel is dangerous and if you are convicted of an offence of this kind you may go to prison.'

However, the decision to suspend the rest of his sentence was slammed by pressure groups last night for 'giving the wrong message' to motorists.

Lord Ahmed, Britain's first Muslim peer, admitted sending and receiving five text messages while driving at 60mph in his Jaguar on the M1 in South Yorkshire on Christmas Day 2007.

He stopped texting two minutes before crashing into Slovakian father-of-two Martyn Gombar, 28.

The factory worker was standing in darkness by the driver's door of his Audi which had crashed into the central safety rail and was straddling the two outer lanes.

At Sheffield Crown Court last month Mr Justice Wilkie said he considered a suspended sentence because the texting had not caused the crash but decided only a custodial sentence could be justified.

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