'Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taliban' becomes honorary druid

11th August 2006

"Mad Mullah" Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom becomes an honorary druid. Brunstrom, of North Wales police (officially the worst police force in England and Wales) earned his nickname for his reputation for targeting speeding motorists rather than murderers, rapists and terrorists.

Speed camera godfather: Richard Brunstrom in his honorary robes.

Dressed in flowing white robes, he looked more like a nun than one of Britain's most controversial police chiefs.

Unfortunately for the motorists of North Wales, Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has no intention of shutting himself away in a monastery.

For Mr Brunstrom, who has become famous for waging war on speeding drivers, donned a different kind of uniform as he was made an honorary druid at a ceremony in Swansea today.

And even the fact that his force had recently doled out a speeding fine to the druid in charge of the ceremony wasn't going to stop him.

The 52-year-old police chief joined an order of Welsh bards at the Royal National Eisteddfod festival in recognition of his promotion of the Welsh culture and language within his police force.

On joining the Gorsedd of Bards - the society of ancient druids - Mr Brunstrom was given the bardic name of 'Prifgopyn', meaning 'spider'. The name is derived from the Welsh words 'prif', meaning 'chief', and 'gop', meaning 'cop'.

The ceremony was conducted by the 'king' of the druid movement, retired headmaster Selwyn Iolen, who revealed he had recently received three points on his driving licence and a 60 fine after being caught doing 36 mph in a 30 mph zone by one of Mr Brunstrom's dreaded cameras.

North Wales Police - the worst police force in England and Wales.

Mr Iolen literally had the police chief in his grip as he placed the giant white headgear of the druids over Mr Brunstrom and he later joked he had considered 'a gentle squeeze.'

The Archdruid, dressed from head to toe in gold, told him: 'You have embraced all aspects of Welsh culture within policing in your area. You have proved to be a good friend to Wales.'

But, as Mr Brunstrom turned to walk away, Mr Iolen, referring tongue-in-cheek to the bank of cameramen at the front of the presentation stage, added: 'Before you go, I would like to say these words to you there are many cameras in here today. Drive carefully.'

Speeding ticket

Afterwards he said of the speeding ticket: 'I was not amused, but I don't hold it against Mr Brunstrom personally. He is good for Wales.'

Mr Brunstrom, the Government's advisor on road safety and speed cameras, has been dubbed the 'Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taliban' because of his interest in catching speeders. In 2003 he called for the number of cameras to be trebled and the following year admitted getting officers to 'hide behind road signs and walls' with handheld devices.

He has branded speeders 'criminals' and 'anti-social' as well as backing the prosecution of a paramedic caught speeding in an ambulance.

But doing his best to look angelic in his white regalia, he steered clear of controversy, describing the honour as one of his 'proudest achievements.'

Mr Brunstrom, who has been learning Welsh for five years, said: 'It's right up there with the best of the best. I'm delighted. As an incomer to Wales, I'm particularly pleased to receive this honour.'

Adding: 'I don't think I have ever felt English. I'm a passionate European and I'm passionately in support of devolution in Wales.'

The Gorsedd of Bards is an association whose members consist of poets, writers, musicians, artists and individuals who have made a contribution to the Welsh nation, language and culture.

Other members include the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, opera star Bryn Terfel and ex-England cricketer Robert Croft.


I think the Welsh should be embarrassed about this.