Private hire driver guilty of operating illegally in Mid Sussex

Ermias Fekade, 37, and Joel Spears, 31, have been found guilty
Ermias Fekade, 37, and Joel Spears, 31, have been found guilty

Mid Sussex District Council has successfully prosecuted a private hire driver who was operating illegally in the district.

Raja Masood, of London Road, Crawley, was was found guilty of plying for hire without a Hackney licence, which meant his vehicle was uninsured, at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on January 8.

A spokesman said: “Mr Masood is a private hire driver licensed by Wealden District Council. As a private hire driver he can only take passengers that are pre-booked, otherwise he is plying for hire and his vehicle insurance would not be valid for that trip.

“A district council licensing officer witnessed Mr Masood dropping off a customer at East Grinstead Railway Station; he then picked up another member of the public. Enquires by the licensing team revealed that this customer was not pre-booked.

“Mr Masood was interviewed and admitted that the passenger was not pre-booked. He was prosecuted by the district council, six penalty points were added to his driving licence and the council was awarded total costs of £1,500.”

Councillor Norman Webster, cabinet member for community, said: “The district council takes passenger safety very seriously. The laws and licensing standards that we enforce are in place to ensure that passengers are safe.

“People should be aware that if they use private hire vehicles without booking in advance then the vehicle will not be insured if an accident occurs.

“Each vehicle is required to have its licence on display and drivers invariably carry identification, which passengers can inspect.”

If people suspect something is wrong with a vehicle they can call 01444 477344.