Court upholds revocation after driver exploited vulnerable passenger for £5,000 “loan”

07 Dec 2023

Licensing, Local Government

Leicester Crown Court has dismissed a private hire driver’s second appeal against North West Leicestershire District Council’s decision to revoke his licence, after he was discovered to have exploited a vulnerable elderly passenger, having taken almost £5,000 from her over a period of six months.

The driver had been licensed since 2012 and had, prior to 2021, a rather chequered licensing history, including two “stern warnings” on his record for previous misconduct and complaints.

In December 2021, the driver’s operator referred a complaint to the Council from the daughter of an elderly passenger, alleging that the driver had “groomed” her mother and taken almost £5,000 from her.

The Council’s investigation revealed:

  • The driver had provided his personal phone number to the passenger and encouraged her to use it, bypassing his operator.
  • Between May and December 2021, the driver made 158 phone calls to the passenger, from early in the morning to late at night, some of which lasted in excess of 30 minutes.
  • The driver regularly contacted the passenger, and visited her at home, for matters completely unconnected with his work, including delivering food, buying medication and groceries and carrying out odd jobs around the house.
  • When the passenger’s daughter learned what had happened to her mother, and complained to the operator, the driver had had to take out several personal loans at short notice to repay the passenger – despite claiming that the money was a “loan” which he always intended to pay back.

The Council concluded that the driver was not fit and proper and therefore revoked his licence in March 2022.

The driver appealed unsuccessfully to the magistrates’ court.  His second appeal was heard at Leicester Crown Court on 30 November 2023.

In dismissing the appeal, the court noted it had been unable to“ detect] even the slightest shred or remorse or acknowledgement of what [the Appellant] had done; rather a litany of self-justification” and went on to hold:

“Taxi drivers are trusted to make sure the vulnerable, the weak and the insensible get home safely. … This is not a “50-50” case. We take the view, in light of his record and his actions, the Council were perfectly entitled to conclude that [the Appellant] was not fit and proper to hold a licence.”

The Council were represented by Matt Lewin, a member of Cornerstone Barristers’ Licensing Team.  This is the second “non-conviction” revocation that Matt has successfully defended this month, following an earlier case involving a driver whose licence was revoked following a pattern of dangerous driving.