Hats off to Graham Powell, Hill House Hammond's personnel and customer relations boss, for winning a royal pardon with a cheeky reference to one HRH.

Never having had so much as a parking ticket, he thought it a little harsh when he was recently slapped with a £500 speeding fine and five penalty points for driving 45mph in a 30mph zone. And he was even more aggrieved to learn that, just one week earlier, Princess Anne had been fined £400 by the same magistrates' court for doing 93mph in a 70mph zone.

Fuming at their apparently different treatment, Powell launched a valiant appeal. Addressing the judge at Gloucester Crown Court, he said it did not seem fair that someone as wealthy as Princess Anne should pay £100 less than him for a comparable offence.

His Honour Recorder Michael de Navarro QC was reportedly amused by Powell's audacity and slashed the fine from £500 to just £60.

Powell could have saved himself the trouble, if you believe an anonymous magistrates' court clerk. The clerk sets out an almost foolproof way of avoiding penalty points in an email forwarded by one of Backchat's chums.

The source says that drivers receiving a fine notice should make out a cheque for an amount slightly over the sum demanded by the court. The court will then have to return the overpayment. As penalty points are not applied until the financial transaction is complete, the source advises, a driver can put the whole process into abeyance by binning, instead of cashing, their refund cheque.

Drivers need not worry about a follow-up visit from the police, since the courts' computer has registered the fine as paid. Happy motoring.