Uber’s former UK boss has escaped being prosecuted for perjury despite her court evidence being proven to be false.
Jo Bertram, who now works for O2, told the High Court the firm’s central computers accept the bookings which are passed to its drivers, when the reverse was true. The truth made Uber’s business model unlawful in London, as its drivers were plying for hire and accepting work not through a licensed operator. It is one of the central reasons cited by TfL for refusing the company’s licence renewal in 2017 – although it controversially won it back this year. At the time, TfL said it believed “the point is determinative and that Uber’s current operating model is accordingly unlawful.” It added that even if it was wrong about that, the “materially false and misleading” information it and the court had been given by Uber was one of three factors that made the company “not fit and proper” to hold an operator’s licence. However, police have bizarrely decided not to press ahead with charging Bertram, claiming that her statement had no effect on the final decision. Detective Inspector Gail Granville said: “I do not believe that the disputed claim was material fact in the civil court proceedings.” This runs contrary to the claims of TfL, which said it believed that had Uber told the truth, its operating model would probably have been found “unlawful” in the 2015 High Court action. The regulator accused the company of giving “false” evidence to win the case. Uber told Mr Justice Ouseley, that its central computer systems, not individual drivers, handled all bookings and fares. It had told TfL the same thing many times. An investigation laterrevealed the company’s central computers accepted a booking only after a driver had done so. In its letter dismissing the case, the Met says that the case does not meet the CPS Charging Standard, which requires that the evidence is “exceptionally strong.” It also says that charges of Perverting the Course of Justice are reserved for “serious cases of interference with justice.” DI Granville said: “Although the evidence of Bertram was in incorrect, there is no evidence to show that she had ‘deliberately’ misled the court. For the offence to be made out there must be evidence of falsity. Being mistaken, or being unable to recall, does not itself mean an offence of perjury or perverting the course has been committed.”