Drunk at the wheel on a motorway at 1am... so how did banking scion’s ex escape driving ban?
THE former wife of a millionaire banker, who was found parked on a motorway hard shoulder reeking of drink, has escaped a driving ban after a sheriff heard that her business interests might suffer.
Elaine Grossart, who was married to Hamish Grossart, a scion of the Scottish Noble Grossart banking dynasty, admitted being in charge of a car on the M9 last October after consuming excess alcohol.
A court heard the 57-year-old socialite gave a breath sample which contained 46 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, exceeding the then legal limit of 35mg by almost a third.
However, a sheriff agreed not to ban Grossart after her lawyer argued it could jeopardise the future of two companies she ran. Instead, Sheriff Gillian Wade fined her £800 and ordered her licence to be endorsed with ten penalty points.
The decision to show leniency was condemned by road safety campaigners. Margaret Dekker, of Scotland’s Campaign Against Irresponsible Drivers, said: ‘I am frankly astonished. She was on the hard shoulder of the M9.
‘The Government, the police and the Crown Office are all taking steps to crack down on drink-driving and save lives, but the judiciary continues to take a lenient view.’
The court was told that Grossart, who won a £2.8million divorce settlement from her former husband, was found by police near Plean, Stirlingshire, on October 18.
Adrian Fraser, prosecuting, said officers saw the Toyota stationary at 1am, with its lights on.
Mr Fraser added: ‘They found the engine was running, opened the door and spoke to the driver, the accused. She appeared to be composing a text on her mobile phone and she said she had just pulled over to text her son.
‘She was told the hard shoulder was not a suitable location to be doing that and she began to argue with the police officers.
‘She was noticeably slurring her words and repeating herself.’
The depute fiscal said there was a smell of alcohol in Grossart’s vehicle and she was asked to go with the officers to the police car. He added: ‘She was unsteady on her feet.’
The court heard that Grossart, of Auchterarder, Perthshire, then gave a positive breath sample.
Martin Black, defending, asked Sheriff Wade to use her discretion and not ban his client.
Grossart has interests in two businesses – the Scottish Research Society, a political research company of which she is deputy chairman, and the Namaste Partners hip, a Fife - based business networking and marketing firm.
Referring to Grossart’s business activities, Mr Black said: ‘The loss of her driving licence would place a burden and an uncertain future when it comes to the continuation of the business.’ He added that Grossart also needed to visit her son, 17, and daughter, 14, at boarding school in Edinburgh.
He said Grossart had been involved in what he called ‘an acrimonious divorce’ from her former husband, the nephew of Sir Angus Grossart, the founder of the Noble Grossart merchant bank, whose family fortune is estimated at £150million.
Mr Black said: ‘She was in charge of the vehicle and should not have been. She had not applied her mind to the alcohol she had taken before being in charge of the vehicle.’
Passing sentence, Sheriff Wade told Grossart: ‘This was a serious matter, and your record does disclose a somewhat cavalier attitude to road traffic offences. However, there is a degree of contrition.’
Asked by a reporter after the case if she thought she had got off lightly by escaping a ban, Grossart refused to comment.
Grossart was the second wife of Hamish Grossart, chairman of the Royal Doulton pottery group.
Following the couple’s bitter divorce battle in 2008, it emerged that Grossart had bugged her then husband’s phone at the Pitlour Estate in Perthshire to discover if he was hiding millions of pounds from her and her legal team.
Four years ago, Mr Grossart wed for a third time, tying the knot with divorced mother-of-three Elizabeth Stirling – known to friends as Plum – after what was described as a ‘whirlwind romance’.
‘Slurring her words’ ‘Cavalier attitude to traffic offences’
Ex-wife: Elaine Grossart and inset, ex-husband Hamish