A private hire driver found illegally picking up passengers in Manchester has been fined almost £4,000 and handed six penalty points for driving without valid insurance.
Arif Hussain Bhatti, 43, of Heather Street, Clayton, appeared before Manchester Crown Court on Friday 20 October 2017. Bhatti was appealing a conviction handed down by Manchester Magistrates Court in May.
Shortly before midnight on 20 August 2016 Manchester council officers, working with Greater Manchester Police traffic officers, noticed Bhatti in a private hire vehicle parked on Dantzic Street, outside the Printworks in the city centre.
Bhatti was seen talking to members of the public, who then got into the vehicle before it drove away – leading officers to suspect the journey had not been pre-booked.
After a short distance the vehicle was pulled over and further enquiries proved that the passengers had not made a booking with the private hire operator.
It is illegal for private hire drivers to pick up passengers who flag them down on the street and in doing so may invalidate their insurance, all journeys taken in private hire vehicles must be pre-booked through the base operator.
Bhatti originally appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court on 18 May 2017 where he was found guilty of acting without a licence after a trial and received a fine of £760, he was also handed six penalty points for driving without insurance. He was ordered to pay costs of £1,783 and a victim surcharge of £66.
Following an appeal the case was heard again at Manchester Crown Court – the case against Bhatti was upheld. The crown court increased the original fine by £200 and order Bhatti to pay costs in £1,150. The costs from the initial hearing still stood meaning the amount payable by Bhatti totals £3,959.
Bhatti will now be invited to a hearing with Manchester City Council where his ability to hold a Private Hire Driving Licence will be reviewed.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We regard illegally plying for hire as a serious offence and the punishment handed out by the court shows they agree.
“Let this send a warning to rogue drivers that the consequences for illegally operating any taxi are both serious and costly. Our officers are on patrol day and night, if you are caught operating illegally, we will not hesitate to prosecute you.
“When looking for a taxi remember, only Manchester licensed hackney carriage drivers are allowed to pick passengers up from the side of the road within our city boundaries. Your journey will not be insured if you flag down a passing private hire vehicle or an out of town hackney carriage.”