Donna 'Airhead': Ditzy Defence Wins Fraud Case

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Donna 'Airhead': Ditzy Defence Wins Fraud Case
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Donna Air has been cleared of fraudulently applying for a parking permit after her lawyer argued "there was not a lot going on in her head".

The television presenter, 32, was accused of breaking council rules for having two permits for her car.

Her barrister, Benn Maguire, told the jury at Isleworth Crown Court that she was not the sort of person to read forms properly.

"I hope she will not criticise me," he said," but at the time there was not a lot going on in Ms Air's head, other than hot air.

"She is certainly not the sort of individual who will scrutinise documents in the way we sometimes wish we had the time to do."

He added: "She is no lawyer."

The jury took less than 15 minutes to clear her.

Air , who shot to fame as a child in TV series Byker Grove, was accused of defrauding Kensington and Chelsea Council after applying for a second permit for her car.

She had already been granted a permit by officials in Westminster, where she lived in a rented flat until late 2010.

After moving to Holland Park in January 2011, she applied for a second permit, costing £110.

Parking attendants then photographed her cream Mini Cooper with both permits displayed.

The council argued she could have saved up to £5,700 in parking fees by having the permit.

Air, who has an eight-year-old daughter from a previous relationship to millionaire Damian Aspinall, told the court she had left the form-filling to her hired help.

"Since I became single, I have a girl who comes in and helps with the mundane things, so I can focus on things with my daughter, such as sorting out bills and applying for parking permits."

Defending her signature on the form, Air told jurors: "I was in a hurry... I was a bit stressed out... I am always in a rush or something."

She broke down in tears as she spoke about an accident which had left her with fractures to her leg and then a further incident which confined her to a wheelchair.

"I was not able to drive with two broken legs," she said, adding that she only began to drive again last June.

Her barrister said it was a "disgrace" the case had ever been brought to court, blaming her celebrity status for the prosecution.

"'You may think it is an entirely innocent coincidence that the first time Kensington and Chelsea council decide to prosecute someone under the fraud act, Ms Air's name pops up.

"We say it's almost impossible the police would have considered prosecution in this matter.

"Had she been found guilty, it would have been the end of her career."

Judge Dean admitted: "I must question the wisdom of this prosecution."

Speaking outside court, Air said she was "delighted and relieved" it was all over.

She said: "I have never been in court before and it's very scary to be accused of something you haven't done.

"It is an experience I will not forget in a hurry.

"I'm a taxpayer myself and would have liked to see better use of funds, when I think about all the knife crime in my area."

According to The Times newspaper, Air laughed off the 'airhead' defence, saying: "I have always had a sense of humour but he does owe me a drink for that one."

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