Almost 100 drivers were fined for speeding on the motorway near Falfield despite highways officials admitting the 20mph speed limit was set by mistake.

The restriction was put in place at junction 14 of the M5 on September 16 2017 following a crash between a horsebox and two cars in which five people lost their lives.

But the Highways Agency now admit they wrongly set the temporary 20mph speed limit for more than 14 hours - leading to 97 people being prosecuted for speeding.

The crash happened just after 2.30pm and the 20mph limit was in place until 7.30am the next morning, several hours after suitable traffic management was put in place.

One of those caught out was lorry driver Gary Richards, who drove through the 20mph limit and past speed cameras at 42mph at 2.30am, 12 hours after the crash happened.

He appeared in court in May 2018 where he was given four penalty points and fined £350.

Gary, 53, from St Austell, said: "When I saw the speed limit I could not believe it. I have driven all over Europe and have never seen a 20mph speed limit on a motorway.

"I thought it had to be wrong. I thought there was no way I was being told to drive 20mph.

"I slowed down but not enough. When I got flashed it annoyed the hell out of me.

"I maintain that I am not guilty because the restriction should not have been in place at all.

"It's completely ridiculous. It's my first ever speeding ticket."

Gary says he was determined to enter a not guilty plea but was convinced otherwise by his solicitor who warned him if he did, the court could ban him from driving altogether.

A Freedom of Information act request revealed a total of 439 offences were detected by the camera in question.

Lorry driver of almost 20 years, Gary argues the fines he and 96 others received is "miscarriage of justice".

"It has affected my job because now I am terrified of driving on motorways.

"I feel like I have received no protection at all."

Gary went on to complain to Highways England and an independent complaints assessor at the Department for Transport was appointed to investigate.

Jonathan Wigmore was assigned to the complaint and he wrote a report into exactly what happened to find out why the 20mph limit was in place for so long.

The report said: "The gravity and complexity of this incident has led to a long and ongoing learning process to help us improve how we manage such incidents.

"During this it became apparent in January 2018 that a local way of working had developed over time which did not comply with our processes.

"Some of our operators were of the belief that signals should remain illuminated after the installation of temporary traffic management.

"This was the root cause of the 20mph remaining illuminated for longer than our internal processes specified and we have since taken steps to brief our staff on the correct way of working.

"We have acknowledged and apologised for our error when dealing with complaints.

"Had we been aware of the error at the time it occurred, we may have considered inviting Avon & Somerset Police to consider whether issuing NIPs was appropriate.

Despite admitting the mistake Highways England say they "do not believe our failure" to remove the 20mph limit renders the restriction "legally unenforceable".

Highways England issued Gary with an apology and a £50 goodwill gesture, which he says he rejected.

Investigator, Mr Wigmore, said in his report he recommends Highways England make a public apology to all drivers who were caught speeding.

A Highways England spokesperson said: "Being able to set temporary speed limits around incidents and roadworks is essential for safety.

"In this case there had been a very serious incident on the M5 and the speed limit was protecting the on-road teams who were responding to it.

"If a driver believes a speed limit has been set incorrectly, it is quick and easy to report it to us and we promise that every case is investigated.

"However, we are also clear that drivers must drive within the signed speed limit."