I’ll never forget the panic in director of LTPH John Mason’s voice, after he ran from Palestra to address members of the RMT's Taxi branch committee at George Vyse’s office at Great Suffolk Street.
He wanted to know how the RMT had come into possession of information, that 4000 blank Taxi licenses had gone missing in the move from Penton Street, to Palestra. He was visibly shaken that the news had got out.
We were at the time hearing allegations, that owners were snatching back Taxis from drivers who were not keeping up with their required payments, only to find when reporting to TfL, no such numbered licence had been issued.
Allegations abounded that the fake licenses had numbers of badges, lost or surrendered by retiring drivers (Information that could only come from TfL).
The issue first came to light approximately 9 years ago, after a bad accident in Victoria between a TX2 and a Toyota minicab.
Three elderly passengers were cut from the wreckage and hospitalised. I personally attended the scene and while taking photos, was told by a senior police officer, that the driver of the Taxi had done a runner. The officer asked me to try to get a message out, for the drive to come forward and give himself up.
It later transpired that the vehicle had been hired from a Taxi garage, using a fake copy bill.
Then a second fake allegedly showed up, after a driver committed an offence which was dealt with by City of London Police and although director of LTPH John Mason played down the incident saying it was just a cheap copy, it was actually good enough to fool the CoL police officers dealing with the incident. It was only when the complaint was reported to TfL, the driver proved to be untraceable.
It was widely thought at the time, the documents turning up were in fact genuine and had been purloined by a corrupt member of staff, during the move from Penton Street to Palestra.
TfL tried to absolved their involvement in the issue, by saying that the original missing licenses (4000 of them) had been found in the back of a cupboard in Palestra and the suspicious ones turning up, were in fact extremley good counterfeits. (That must have been one big cupboard to lose 4000 blank bills)
In an email from the deputy director of LTPH, Helen Chapman, she claimed that all the stock of blank bills had in fact been accounted for.
But one proprietor who had been given an untraceable copy licence, said these were definitely genuine bills.
Soon after these licenses started to appear, TfL decided to change the design, also adding more security features.
History Repeating Itself???
Well, apparently it's starting to happen again, and from what we’ve been told, there could be many drivers out there with extremely accurate unauthorised licenses.
A cab driver who doesn’t want to give his name has told Taxi Leaks that he was pulled up by Cab Enforcement officers who spent an unusual amount of time examining his license and also his badge.
When he asked why the check was taking so long, one of the officers said "we’ve been finding drivers with very passable fakes, even their badges look spot on".
Last week a senior trade rep was pulled up and given a badge and bill check which took longer than normal. He was also given the same explanation when he enquired about the seemingly
forensic examination of his documentation and badge.
Ive been reliably informed that the London Cab Driver Club (LCDC) have written to TfL compliance, for more information about these latest allegations but so far, TfL have failed to reply.
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
This latest scandal needs sorting immediately and not swept under the carpet to fester with the fake criminal record checks.
Why have TfL cut the number of PCOs ?
Why have LTPH virtually stopped badge and bill checks ?
These are questions that urgently need answers!
If these new fake licenses are actually genuine blanks, that have been altered and again given numbers of lost or retired badges, they can only be coming from one source and that’ is from someone at TfL.
But TfL have a history of denial....
Remember how adamant John Mason, was that there had been no arrests of Palestra staff.... later, it transpired Brazilian national Marcos Gurgel had been arrested, charged and found guilty of fraudulently obtaining £249 cash from Taxi Driver (and former RMT Secretary) Stanley Marut, over the front desk counter.
Then we had Helen Chspman trying to dismiss the 13,000 fake DBS criminal record certificates at a senior reps meeting... until it was pointed out the the statistic actually came from TfL.
We also had Commisioner Sir Peter Hendy saying on London Live TV, TfL couldn’t implement a Taxi rank at the Shard, as the road was under the jurisdiction of Southwark Council. Not true, as it was pointed out by Taxi Leaks, St Thomas Street is in fact a red route.
Sir Peter Hendy later apologised in an email to Taxi Leaks through director Leon Daniels.
ALSO IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK:
From London Taxi PR:
New LTPR Flyers, rear window logo stickers, receipts & pens now left in the canteen at GSS (Great Suffolk street ) and piccolo bar, queen Victoria street
And from UTAG:
We should like to thank Jon @jonjoncabstop for his generosity in the form of a 3rd donation to UTAG.
Another garage that supports our trade and will fight for our future.
Check Jon’s garage out at
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