Did you hear the one about Sir Ranulph Fiennes (explorer), the Crown Prosecution Service, the alleged speeding ticket and Ralph Fiennes (two times Oscar nominated Hollywood actor)?

What happened (allegedly) was that Sir Ranulph Fiennes (explorer) went through a speed camera in October last year, driving a hire car at 50mph in a 40mph zone in Northwich, Cheshire. But because of a “computer says no” moment, the speeding ticket got sent to one Ralph Fiennes (actor), who was nowhere near Cheshire at the time because he was in Hollywood, acting no doubt.

Because the Crown Prosection’s computer then registered that Sir Ranulph (explorer) had ignored his ticket, he then got sent a summons. Once again, though, this was sent to Ralph Fiennes (actor) and not Ranulph Fiennes (explorer).

Eventually, because first the ticket and then the summons had both been technically ignored by Sir Ranulph Fiennes (explorer), the CPS computer sent another summons to Mr Fiennes (actor, sorry explorer) for the more serious offence of failing to provide driver details. Except, of course, the computer got it wrong – again – and sent the summons to the wrong address, even though this time it got the name right and sent it to Ranulph Fiennes.

As a result the case was dropped by the CPS this week and Sir Ranulph Fiennes (explorer), Ralph Fiennes (actor) and anyone else caught speeding in Cheshire that month, you’d imagine, all got let off scott (not of the Antartic) free. In fact, the whole shambles has ended up costing us, the tax payer, because inevitably Sir Ranulph’s lawyer managed to persuade the state to pay substantial (but undisclosed) costs of the case.

One question; what on earth is going to happen when the CPS has 25 per cent less funding to run its computer with?