A driver in Germany had a lucky escape when a passing dove blocked his face from being photographed by a speed camera.

Police joked that they accepted the dove’s appearance as a “sign from above” and protection from the Holy Ghost, and said they would not pursue the case.

The driver, who has not been identified, was driving at 54kmh (33mph) on a road with a 30kmh (18mph) limit in the western town of Viersen.

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He would usually be liable for a fine of €105 (£93) and 1 penalty point on his driving license, but under German law no penalty can be issued unless there is photographic evidence of who was behind the wheel.

Unlike in the UK, car owners cannot be required to identify who was driving.

But the Viersen police took the driver’s lucky escape in good humour, and said he had been spared a fine “thanks to his feathered guardian angel with carefully spread wings”.

“The Holy Ghost may have had something in mind when he placed his symbol in an exposed spot on May 21,” they said in a tonge-in-cheek press release.

“We have understood the sign and will leave the speeder in peace this time.  But we are hope the protected speeder understands this ‘wink from above’ as well, and drives properly in future.”

The police went on to say that the dove was almost certainly also speeding and liable to a fine, but added: “Since we don’t know where she had to be for Pentecost, we bow here to grace before right”.