The Chairman outlined the procedure to be followed. All those present were introduced. The applicant agreed that Councillors R Brunton, Mrs R Cheswright and P Ruffles could remain in the room as observers. The applicant also agreed that two Officers from Legal and Democratic Services could remain in the meeting.
The Senior Specialist Licensing Officer summarised why the matter had been reported to the Licensing Sub-Committee. He stated that it was for the Sub-Committee to decide whether the applicant was a “fit and proper” person to hold a Private Hire Drivers Licence.
The applicant explained the background to the incident. The Senior Specialist Licensing Officer advised Members that the Police had provided the Licensing Authority with the body worn camera interview with the passenger, which had been redacted to protect the passenger’s identity and to observe Data Protection rights.
Given the difficulty in following the redacted version of the interview, the meeting was adjourned for 15 minutes so that the Senior Specialist Licensing Officer could make arrangements for Members of the Sub-Committee to separately view the un-redacted interview. At 3.20 pm the meeting reconvened.
In response to a query from Councillor N Symonds, the applicant explained that all drivers did not have to undertake some form of “knowledge” test. The Senior Specialist Licensing Officer explained changes to the policy which required taxi drivers to undertake some form of “knowledge” test which London Hackney Cab drivers had to pass.
The applicant commented that what the passenger said was wrong and that he was married and a Muslim. He commented that he routinely encountered inappropriate behaviour from customers. He accepted that he had taken money from the passenger’s purse and that it had been wrong to do so. The applicant referred to the fact that he had worked for the company for two and a half years and there had been no complaints about him. He denied that anything inappropriate had occurred. In response to a query regarding why he had stopped his car, the applicant explained the problems with the directions he had been given, the issues with local road arrangements and the model of the car he had been driving.
The Senior Specialist Licensing Manager provided Members with a booking sheet which highlighted where the passenger was being dropped off and the house number.
At the conclusion of the representations, the Sub-Committee withdrew with the Legal Adviser and Democratic Services Officer to consider the evidence.
Following this they returned and the Chairman announced that the Sub-Committee had listened carefully to all the evidence detailed in the report and the comments received from the applicant. Having posed the question of whether the applicant was a “fit and proper person” to hold such a licence, the Sub-Committee, after considering the evidence put forward, unanimously agreed that the Private Hire Drivers Licence be revoked.
The Sub-Committee commented that on the balance of probabilities, they favoured the passenger’s account of events rather than the applicant’s and felt that such inappropriate behaviour was totally unacceptable and especially so for the holder of a Private Hire Drivers Licence with responsibility for the travelling public.
In arriving at the decision the Sub-Committee asked the question:
“would you allow your son or daughter, spouse or partner, mother or father, grandson or grand-daughter or any other person for whom you care, to get into a vehicle with this person alone?”, and concluded that the applicant was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
The Legal Adviser explained that he had not taken any part in the decision making process and was there to advise Members on points of law and what they could and could not do within the law. The applicant was advised of his right to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court within 21 days.
RESOLVED – that that the application for a Private Hire Drivers’ licence be revoked, for the following reasons:
Having considered the evidence put forward by the
licence holder, as well as that of the passenger, which was played
from footage captured on body worn camera, the Sub-Committee
decided that on the balance of probabilities, they favoured the
evidence put forward by the passenger.
In so reaching that conclusion, the Sub-Committee were further
forced to consider whether this kind of behaviour was consistent
with that of a fit and proper person, and concluded that it was
2. Notwithstanding that the act described by the passenger was consensual, the Sub-Committee did not feel that this sort of behaviour was becoming of a Private Hire driver licenced by East Hertfordshire District Council, whilst on duty.
3. In posing the question “would you allow your son or daughter, spouse or partner, mother or father, grandson or grand-daughter or any other person for whom you care, to get into a vehicle with this person alone?”, the Sub-Committee concluded that they would not, and so determined that the licence holder was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.