The damning ‘Uber Files’ revelations from this Summer are unlikely to prompt any action in the capital after the Mayor of London confirms the issues reported ‘had already been identified’ by the regulators and ‘considered’ during historic licensing decisions.
In October, a London Assembly Member asked the Mayor of London for his assessment of the ‘Uber Files’ findings that rocked the gig-economy and what he plans to do as a result.
The question directed at London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, came after more than 124,000 confidential Uber documents were leaked to the Guardian and other news outlets, which demonstrated the full extent of Uber’s global lobbying powers and more locally its efforts to twist regulation in London.
Sadiq Khan has been Mayor of London since 2016 and, as a result, presided over multiple Uber operator licence renewals.
The documents released, known as the ‘Uber Files’, confirmed many of the things noted in the taxi trade about its aggressive tactics, since it first entered the market over a decade ago.
The leaked files showed how the company exerted influence over UK government ministers and advisers, including George Osborne, Sajid Javid and Matt Hancock, in off the book meetings, and hired close personal friends like Rachel Whetstone and Lynton Crosby to help them gain access to the top levels of the Cameron Government, ultimately preventing the then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, from clamping down on Uber and its damaging operating model.
London Assembly Member, Caroline Pidgeon, put forward a written question to Khan asking what assessment he and Transport for London (TfL) have made of the recently published “Uber Files” and whether he plans to make any changes as a result.
Sadiq Khan recently responded on 16 November: “The issues reported by the media in July 2022 had already been identified by Transport for London (TfL) and considered when it made its decision to refuse to grant Uber London Limited (ULL) a licence in 2017.
“The issues were included in TfL’s evidence, laid before the Chief Magistrate in 2018. Following improvements in Uber’s governance arrangements, the Chief Magistrate subsequently made a decision to issue ULL with a licence with conditions in June 2018.”
The findings have caused anger amongst taxi drivers across Europe. In September traffic was brought to a stand-still in Brussels as cabbies from far and wide came together to protest against Uber.
Taxi drivers from Spain, Italy and Switzerland were seen looking for action after Uber dodged regulations and courted lawmakers not just in the UK, but also globally. French President Emmanuel Macron was mentioned in the ‘Uber Files’ and protesters said they wanted the EU to step in.