September 23, 2023

The former Miss Russia and heir to the Smirnoff vodka empire was filmed driving through Hyde Park while on her phone by road safety activist “CyclingMikey”, a court heard.

Marinika Smirnova, the 40-year-old star of Fox TV’s Meet The Russians, was just one mile from her six-bedroom £4.7m apartment in Queen’s Gate, Kensington, when she was recorded by the YouTuber.

Cycling around west London, 50-year-old “CyclingMikey” has captured hundreds of motorists using their phones and assisted prosecutions against ex-footballer Frank Lampard, movie director Guy Ritchie, former boxer Chris Eubank and comedy producer Jimmy Mulville.

Ms Smirnova failed to appear at Lavender Hill magistrates court, where she was fined £220, with £620 costs, ordered to pay an additional £88 surcharge and received six penalty points on her driving licence.

The model and professional dancer – related to Pierre Smirnoff, who supplied his vodka to the court of Emperor Nicholas Romanov II – was convicted of using a handheld mobile phone while driving along West Carriage Drive on Dec 10, last year.

“CyclingMikey”, whose real name is Michael Van Erp, was walking his bike through the park when he spotted Smirnova at the wheel of her red 3.8 litre Porsche, with personalised number plate SM11NOV.

He has posted the Smirnova encounter on his YouTube channel for the benefit of his 100k followers and the footage was also played in court to the magistrates.

“It was 1.00pm and I was walking my bike on the pavement in Hyde Park and I noticed a red Porsche in the queue of traffic,” Zimbabwe-born Dutchman Van Erp told the trial. “I noticed the driver was using a mobile phone.

“She had her head down in her lap and I could clearly see the driver was on her phone.”

Van Erp circled around the rear of the Porsche and pedalled up to the driver’s side.

“I saw the lit-up screen on the phone and some changes in the apps she was navigating through.

“As I leaned in, the female driver put the phone away and looked at me, a disdainful look and I don’t blame her for that.

“I did not recognise the driver, but I have since searched her and she is a bit of a celebrity.

“I look for road behaviours, not particular people or particular cars, although I do admire her good personal plate.”

Tale of the tape

Tale of the tape

Smirnova did not respond to the police offer of a fixed penalty and applied to adjourn the trial at short notice because she is out of the country.

However, this was rejected by the magistrates, who convicted her.

John Soones, chairman of the bench, said: “The phone was in her hand and we feel it was being used.”

He told Van Erp at the trial’s conclusion: “What you do is sensible and you assist the police in collecting evidence.”

‘It seems to jump the shark’

In 2022, Van Erp lost his case against a driver he had accused of assault. He told jurors at Southwark Crown Court he had fallen onto the Range Rover like a “crash test dummy” but the jury cleared celebrity agent Paul Lyon-Maris of all charges.

Presenter Jeremy Vine has previously praised Van Earp after a clip showed the cycling campaigner being berated and sworn at by an irate driver earlier this year when he filmed the man using his phone at the wheel.

Vine said on social media: “I have never seen a cyclist-driver confrontation like this before. And towards the end it seems to jump the shark completely.”

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