A BRIGHTON taxi driver whose licence was revoked after a hit-and-run has won the right to work behind the wheel again in a landmark ruling.
The High Court ruled that Brighton and Hove City Councilhad been wrong to revoke Mehrdad Kaivanpor's licence after he received 9 points and fines totalling £900, for knocking a woman off her bike last year.
The decision overturned legal precedent, and now councils across England and Wales will have to prove drivers are unfit to hold a licence, rather than drivers having to prove they are “fit and proper persons” in such cases.
But cycling groups said driving is not a human right and warned that licensing the wrong people could lead to more road accidents.
Mr Kaivanpor collided with the bicycle of Robyn Gargan, a 20-year-old hairdresser, near Harrington Road in Brighton on May 2 last year.
He stopped his car but did not get out, only contacting the police an hour afterwards.
At the time, Ms Gargan said: “He must have known what happened. He knocked a 19-year-old girl off her bike yet he just drove off.
“I am not happy knowing he is still out there. Of all people, you would expect a taxi driver to stop – I could have been dead.”
She said she was “covered in bruises” and suffered headaches and back pain after the collision.
Mr Kaivanpor’s licence was revoked after his arrest.
At the same hearing his appeal over his licence was denied because he could not prove he was a fit and proper person to hold one.
Last Wednesday the case reached the High Court, where Lord Justice Beatson and Mr Justice Wilkie ruled that it is for Brighton and Hove City Council to demonstrate why Mr Kaivanpor should not have his licence reinstated, in a case such as this.
David Lewis-Hall, barrister for the cabbie, said: “If the council are interfering with your right to earn a living, then surely it must be right for them to justify their interference.”
“This is an important ruling as it means that taxi drivers start from a position of innocence in the eyes of the court - rather than having to prove they are 'not guilty'.
"This is an important point from a natural justice and human rights angle.”
John Streeter, Vice Chairman at Brighton & Hove Streamline Taxis, said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better result.
“Since I began in 2003, procedures have never been in place to safeguard taxi drivers, and this was wrong.”
But Becky Reynolds, head of campaigns for Brighton cycling group Bricycles, was concerned where the new law could lead.
She said: “We really need to be very strict about who we licence. Licensing the wrong people could lead to more death and injury on our roads.”