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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2024 6:09 pm 
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'Disingenuous' taxi driver loses licence despite no police action in grooming and harassment probes

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/tees ... e-29295954

A taxi driver once investigated over allegations of sexual harassment and grooming a young passenger has lost his private hire licence as councillors were not satisfied with his explanations.

Police officers had taken no further action on any of the allegations. However a Stockton Council committee did not believe the unnamed motorist was a "fit and proper person" to hold a combined hackney carriage and private hire vehicle driver's licence.

He was investigated by police several years ago over alleged grooming of a child passenger, including giving the young person free lifts and having contact with them over social media, according to minutes of a licensing committee meeting. The police took no further action in this investigation.

He told licensing officers he "did not groom her in that way", the minutes state. But the licensing committee "did not feel that [the driver] was credible in response to their questioning" and found his "lack of insight into his inappropriate behaviour... very concerning".

More recently, the driver's hackney carriage and private hire licence was suspended while he was under another investigation by Cleveland Police. The minutes say he had renewed his taxi licence without telling the authorities of the investigation.

Officers had looked into his mobile phone use while investigating "sexually malicious phone calls". The police took no further action in the sexual harassment and malicious communications probe too, as they found they were unable to prove any offence beyond reasonable doubt. Officers could not prove or disprove whether he had the phone at the time because of the alibi he gave, which was likely to be supported and validated.

The licensing committee, considering the allegations on a lower standard of proof, said the motorist "appeared disingenuous" under questioning. They found he was "obstructive and uncooperative" with its officers and did not attend interviews.

'It definitely wasn't me'

He told councillors he did not know of the malicious communications or who had made the complaint. He was quoted as saying: "Obviously, somebody's probably used my phone. I don’t know what’s happened to be honest." He added he did not know who had made the calls as he had so many friends: "It definitely wasn’t me. I know that 100%."

The committee said he admitted owning the telephone and it was his number but he had no idea who had made such calls, some made through the night. They found his explanation "dubious". He said he had let customers use his phone.

If they haven’t got credit, they need to ring somebody in an emergency, or whatever, I do give them my phone," he added. "I don't think there’s anything wrong with that, is there?"

'Never had any complaints'

He said he had only one phone, but had given five different numbers to licensing officers, said the committee. Questioned about this, he said the numbers changed because he had lost phones and been subjected to scams.

His licence had previously been suspended and revoked, he was given written warnings and had nine points on his licence for failing to give driver information. He said he did not go to a driver improvement course because he was going through financial hardship with a family to support, had "a lot of things going on" and "obviously it's just slipped out of my head".

He was quoted as saying: "I've never had any complaints from customers. They’ve always said nice things about me. I’ve always helped them out."

He added was fit and well to do the job. He said customers described him as a "very helpful person, we’ve never had a driver like you before".

The licensing committee said it was "not satisfied that they would allow people for whom they care to enter a vehicle with [the driver] due to their doubts surrounding his explanation of the circumstances that led to him being investigated by the police... The committee felt that this was compounded by [his] concerning history as a licensed driver."

The committee was "unanimously satisfied" his hackney carriage and private hire vehicle driver's licence should be revoked.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2024 7:12 pm 
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Location: Stamford Britains prettiest town till SKDC ruined it
better safe than sorry seems to be the motto here

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