A MOTORIST hit with a £50 penalty for allegedly flicking a cigarette butt from his car has had the fine quashed.

Wycombe District Council has cancelled the fixed penalty notice and pledged to write a letter of apology to Tim McAllister.

But the incident has cast a cloud of uncertainty over an enforcement policy which allows fines to be issued without allowing alleged offenders to vindicate themselves.

Mr McAllister, of Terryfield Road, High Wycombe, said: "I see endless opportunities here to fine people for offences they did not commit, and maybe settling a grudge or two by submitting details of someone you don't like. I am struggling with this ability to take the word of one person and charge another person with an offence they had nothing to do with."

The first Mr McAllister knew of the incident was when he opened a letter from the council accusing him of a "litter offence" in High Street, High Wycombe.

According to the letter a bystander had seen a woman dropping her cigarette from his car. However Mr McAllister said the car was nowhere near the scene of the alleged incident.

A council spokesman told the Free Press fixed penalty notices are "only issued" when information from witnesses is provided in writing.

She added: "The alleged offender can (then) write to the council with any relevant information in order to appeal the fixed penalty notice. This will then be discussed."

News of the incident has sparked concern among some smokers that the council has developed a policy which could favour anti-smoking lobbyists.

More than £900,000 is spent annually by the council cleaning its town centres.

Powers to issue on-the-spot fines for littering were introduced to local authorities under the Environmental Protection Act.