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Four taxi and PHV drivers ordered to pay over £6,000 for illegally plying-for-hire at Henley Regatta

Four taxi and private hire drivers have been ordered to pay a total of over £6,000 for illegally plying for hire at Henley Regatta.

Tahir Mehmood Awan, 53, pleaded guilty to unlawfully plying for hire at Henley on 30 June 2023. At a hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 23 February, the court heard that Mr Awan had told South Oxfordshire enforcement officers he was in Henley to pick up a pre booked fare but that the customer did not show up. Mr Awan was not licensed by South Oxfordshire District Council and therefore was not permitted to ply for hire in Henley. However, he did agree to take another passenger to Maidenhead, only accepting cash for that booking so that it didn’t go through his private hire operator.

The court were told that Mr Awan or the vehicle that he was driving would not have been through the council’s fit and proper tests, and any unlicensed journey would undermine public safety. Furthermore, his actions were for personal gain and would take business away from properly licensed hackney carriage drivers who rely on an event like Henley Regatta. In mitigation, Mr Awan said he had taken the customer’s number incorrectly and couldn’t make contact with them, and as he was going back to Maidenhead he might as well earn some money. He told the court that since his arrival in the UK in 1993, he had never been in trouble and that he didn’t want to lose his taxi licence. The court took into account Mr Awan’s early guilty plea and his means and imposed a fine of £310, victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £1,100.

On 23 February at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, Mr Yassar Mahmood, 39, was convicted of illegally plying for hire at Henley on 1 July 2023. Mr Mahmood had originally disputed that he had plied for hire because he maintained that he had told the “passenger” to book on the app before the journey could take place and he’d never invited the “passenger” to sit in the car. However, on 23 February he pleaded guilty to the charge against him.

Magistrates took into account his early guilty plea and as a result of his actions Mr Mahmood was ordered to pay a fine of £184, victim surcharge of £74 and costs of £1,100.

In another separate case, on 23 February at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, Mr Haroon Qayyum, 39, was ordered to pay a fine of £660, victim surcharge of £264 and costs of £1,100 after being convicted of illegally plying for hire in Henley on 1 July 2023. Magistrates found Mr Qayyum guilty in his absence after hearing how when a South Oxfordshire licensing officer approached Mr Qayyum, Mr Qayyum told the “passenger” to tell the officer that he had pre-booked the journey but unbeknown to the driver the passenger was in fact also a licensing officer.

Mohammed Siddeeque, 46, also pleaded guilty to illegally plying for hire at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 23 February. In mitigation, Mr Siddeeque told magistrates that he had a clean driving licence and held licences with TfL, and both Reading and Fareham councils and had never had problems previously. He was sorry for his actions and understood that when acting as a private hire driver he must make sure that anybody he carries is pre-booked. As a result of his actions, Mr Siddeeque was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and £1126 in costs.

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We take the safety of our residents very seriously and our officers work hard to make sure unlicensed taxis are stopped from operating in our district. For your safety, I cannot stress the importance of pre-booking private hire vehicles. Pre-booking means there is a record of the journey, the driver, and the vehicle used, so in the event of any problems, the driver and vehicle can be traced.”


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