Deloitte hit with record-breaking £14m MG Rover fine

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Deloitte have recently undertaken a review of LTPH after Leon Daniels requested it. They have put forward proposals that will have major implications on how our trade is run in TFL. They also negotiated the deal for the Caryle Group to buy Addison Lee, of which Deloitte is one of Addison Lee biggest accounts. Are Deloitte having to much of a say in our trade when the have vested interests with the PH trade.

Accountancy firm Deloitte has been fined a record £14m by an industry tribunal as a result of advice it gave investors involved in collapsed British carmaker MG Rover.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said Deloitte had failed to spot conflicts of interest when it acted as adviser to MG Rover directors.

Four directors bought out the company in 2000 for a token sum of £10.

But the carmaker went under in 2005 with £1.4bn in debts.

In July, the tribunal found that 13 allegations brought against Deloitte by the FRC were proven.

Deloitte showed a “persistent and deliberate disregard” of accountancy ethics, the ruling said.

The £14m fine is below the £15-20m requested by the FRC, but it dwarfs the previous fine handed out to an accountancy firm – £1.4m for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2012.

Former Deloitte partner Maghsoud Einollahi was also fined £250,000 and banned from accounting for three years.

Deloitte, which was also severely reprimanded as part of the judgement, continues to disagree with the main conclusions of the tribunal.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “We are disappointed that the efforts we and others made did not successfully secure the long-term future of the MG Rover Group.”

An independent report found that the directors advised by Deloitte, known as the “Phoenix Four”, received more than £40m from MG Rover before its collapse, which led to 6,000 job losses.

John Griffin goes back to court to appeal bus lane ruling

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Black cabs were granted permission to use London’s bus lanes under a “cosy deal” cooked up by Ken Livingstone and the taxi trade, the Court of Appeal was told today.
Nicholas Green QC, representing Europe’s largest minicab firm Addison Lee, said the arrangement breached European fair trade laws as it allowed black taxis an “accelerated course” through London that was unavailable to minicab passengers.

Three Appeal judges today began hearing Addison Lee’s bid to reverse a High Court ruling last July that maintained Transport for London’s ban on the capital’s 50,000 minicabs from using bus lanes.

TfL contests that only black cabs should be allowed to use bus lanes as they are unique in being able to “ply for hire” and it is easier for taxi drivers to be spotted and pick up passengers when using the lanes.

Opening the lanes to minicabs has sparked fears about buses being caught in congestion and a greater safety threat to cyclists.

Mr Green said: “My client has long taken the view that the initial decision to allow black cabs into bus lanes was a cosy deal between the then mayor, Mr Livingstone, and the black cab trade.”

He told the court he had just obtained previously undisclosed “dynamite” and “explosive” TfL research into bus lanes.

“It shows that the reasons TfL had worked on for 18 months to justify keeping private hire vehicles out of bus lanes would apply equally to black cabs,” he told the court.

But the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, who is hearing the case with Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Patten, said: “I can’t see anything that is explosive or dynamite at all.”

Mr Green said there was a “wafer-thin distinction” in practice between the way black cabs and minicabs were used – though minicabs must be pre-booked and cannot be hailed in the street.

He said Addison Lee, which has 2,900 minicabs, took £30m a year in fares for journeys to and from airports and Eurostar services at St Pancras but was penalised by being unable to use bus lanes to speed up its passengers’ journeys.

The case continues.

Source: Evening Standard

John Griffin, chairman of Addison Lee, could face prosecution

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The chairman of Britain’s biggest minicab firm could face criminal prosecution for instructing his drivers to drive illegally in bus lanes, The Times has learnt.
John Griffin, chairman of Addison Lee, last month instructed his drivers to break the law by driving in bus lanes, promising to indemnify them for any fines incurred and claiming that it was “discriminatory” to restrict the lane use to black cabs and not private hire vehicles.

Though the High Court forced Addison Lee to withdraw the instruction to break the law, Ian Austin, the Labour MP for Dudley, wrote to the Metropolitan Police to ask whether Mr Griffin’s original instruction broke the law.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) confirmed that Transport for London (TfL), the capital’s highways agency, had also asked whether any criminal offence had been committed in issuing the instruction.

In a written response to Mr Austin, Commander Adrian Hanstock wrote: “TfL also asked the MPS to establish whether any offences are apparent arising from Mr Griffin’s directive.
“Mr Griffin’s letter has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration and the MPS is awaiting the outcome of this legal advice.”
Commander Hanstock also confirmed that TfL had requested that the Metropolitan Police Service Safer Transport Command “actively prosecute any contravention of bus lanes by unauthorised vehicles”, which Commander Hanstock described as a “recognised priority” of road policing units.

An expert said that prosecutors at the CPS would now be considering allegations that Mr Griffin’s instruction to his drivers could constitute criminal incitement.
Nick Freeman, a solicitor specialising in traffic and speeding offences, said: “He is inciting his employees to commit an unlawful act and yes it is unlawful.
“There is a criminal aspect, in terms of inciting someone to commit an unlawful act.”

Mr Freeman added that the letter could allegedly also be actionable under employment law by drivers wishing to sever their employment contract.
He added: “If I was working for him I would leave and say I had been constructively dismissed, because I am being told to do something unlawful by my boss.”

The Addison Lee chairman also provoked criticism last month by claiming that cyclists should expect to be hurt by drivers if they are “throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces on the world” and criticised those who are “up in arms about what they see as the murder of cyclists on London roads”.
Ian Austin MP, who is also the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, which has been supporting The Times’s ‘Cities fit for cycling’ campaign, said: “John Griffin might think he is funny, but the police clearly take a different view and given the number of cyclists killed and injured, many people will think it is dangerous and irresponsible for someone in his position to encourage conflict on the roads and tell his drivers to ignore the rules.”

An Addison Lee spokesman declined to comment on the allegations, but said: “It is my understanding that TfL referred [the letter] to the police who referred it to the CPS. We’ve heard nothing back from that. We have withdrawn the letter and have had the judicial review of the bus lanes law brought forward to June, so it has been a success from our point of view.
“The drivers are all self-employed. They don’t have to go through anything special to terminate their contract. It was clear in the letter that it was up to the driver whether they drove in the bus lane and that if the passenger told the driver they didn’t want to use the bus lane, they didn’t have to go in them.”
The Times has been invited to attend Addison Lee’s driver training to assess whether it complies with demands made in the ‘Cities fit for cycling’ campaign about improving drivers’ awareness of cyclists.

Source: the times

Is the nature of Private-Hire being exposed?

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The events of the past few months appear to have exposed elements of the private-hire trade for what they actually are. The apparent unraveling of much sought after corporate images and the virtual implosion of their public personas may come as a surprise to many, but to very few in the taxi trade.

The initial Addison Lee declaration to deal with the issue of minicabs in bus lanes truly exposes the nature of how some in this particular business treat those laws they feel get in the way. No lobbying, no persuasion, no democracy, no desire to follow the (sometimes) frustrating rules many of us have followed over the years. A case of; ‘we’re going to get our way and we don’t mind throwing our cash at it to get a result’. It reeked of corporatism and of breathtaking arrogance; it has seemingly done much to expose the Addison Lee brand to bad publicity.

The immediate origins of the current meltdown lie in the attitude of this company towards the much criticized M4 bus lane, where they similarly instructed drivers to ignore the rule of law and illegally drive along the lane. The change of government led to the M4 bus lane being closed, this subsequently led the CPS to drop all tickets and summonses accumulated by Addison Lee vehicles. But the roots are deeper.

In part the roots lie in the triumph of the minicab trade being licensed courtesy of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 – that is, the new licensing system gave them a legitimacy they never previously had – the same people are there –greatly benefiting from the legitimacy of the license, albeit a bastardised legitimacy.

This legitimacy meant they would no longer be treated like any other motorist – in the case of the M4 bus lane, a lack of legitimacy would have led to fines being pursued irrespective of the rights and wrongs. The fact the latest gaffe has led to headlines in the national press describing the business concerned as a ‘taxi’ firm, is all part of the ‘doctrine of ignorance’ which is very often pushed by silly politicians, ignorant newspapers and almost certainly, private hire – but whilst they don’t mind being called ‘taxi’ companies – heaven forbid if they had to operate to the same rules and standards.

Predictably, the private-hire sector has reaped enormous profits from being licensed – well, when I write ‘private hire sector’, you should read ‘private-hire operator’ because there is little doubt the low wages of private hire drivers effectively mean many of them are claiming family tax credits and other state handouts to make their miserable lives more palatable. Whilst the profits of the operators approach almost FTSE proportions – the drivers’ wages are in all too many cases subsidised by the tax payer.

Of course, what rankles some, is the donations to political parties, whilst drivers are claiming tax credits and state benefits, some in the private-hire industry have so much money, they give it to political parties? Indeed, giving £254K to a political party, whilst ‘pseudo employees’ are doing Victorian hours is also a wee bit of a moot point, beyond the ken of many a decent person. It has echoes of the dark satanic mill owners. It’s the fact whilst so many people are going through hardship, private hire drivers included, that a person would stand by and say they’d cover all fines and suchlike for law breaking. This in itself would be admirable, if those law breakers were protesting about our continued involvement in a silly war in Afghanistan or cutting tax rates for people who’ve got more money than sense, something worthwhile, but fines tickets for a bus lane? That’s bordering on insane.

Furthermore, meeting the Secretary of State for transport and amongst the first things said is a tacit reassurance your tax arrangements for drivers being explicitly agreed with HMRC is bordering on just plain weird. But I digress.

It is doubtful the profits of such companies would reach such mouth watering levels if drivers were employed as opposed to being self employed. Transport for London recently stated;

“There are currently some 60,000 licensed private hire drivers however turnover in the trade is rapid. Only about two thirds of drivers apply to renew their licences on expiry and it is likely that some of the drivers who do not renew do not work throughout the full licence period.”

The above statement in respect of the turnover of private hire drivers in London is truly breathtaking – it’s reasonably obvious to conclude whilst the profits of operators take an ever upward spiral, these profits cannot be reaped further down the food-chain in the very ungrand and unfair scheme of things. Otherwise the drivers would obviously stay.

The much coveted legitimacy I referred to above, a bastardised legitimacy in respect of private-hire, can be directly correlated to the turnover of drivers. Licenses are relatively easy to obtain – in effect they are not worked for or achieved – they are merely something you can obtain in a post office, whilst perhaps collecting your stamps or checking your premium bonds. When something is easy to obtain – it is insignificant when lost or given up.

Of course, making a private-hire license a little harder to achieve would be (and was) deemed an unnecessary gamble by operators. The DSA test is one obvious example. It’s a prerequisite of license in many areas of the country, more accurately it is deemed as part of a council’s lawful (and reasonable) right to request information from an applicant. This was however, fundamentally opposed by London private-hire operators. Under normal circumstances such a standard may greatly benefit not only the minicab users of London, but all fellow motorised road users, pedestrians and more ironically, cyclists – yet such a qualification would have the byproduct of reducing the available pool of drivers. This could simply not be allowed, all manner of persuasion followed to convince TfL to take a different course. TfL were subsequently subservient to the demands of the operators.

In a functioning democratic society, an issue such as private-hire access to bus-lanes would lead to a campaign, I am almost certain my old adversary from the GMB Professional Drivers Branch, Terry Flanagan, would do, as he has done in the past, campaign to address such a fundamental issue. He would doubtless look into the root causes and cures, and propose the means by which his union could achieve the end result, all the time working with the authorities and indeed perhaps the cab trade. Yet even Terry has condemned the reckless approach of the minicab operator in this issue as irresponsible, wanting to know if a driver is suspended who will pay for any suffrage endured?

The Saturday evening following the meltdown saw numerous BBC radio shows gave the company concerned a platform, it is to the ultimate shame of the BBC that they appear to have almost unquestioningly accepted the spin of the company, who’s stance changed in the space of 24 hours to one of doing their level best to help cyclists by highlighting the problem. The fact that they were encouraging their own 3500 drivers to break the law and use bus lanes was seemingly forgotten.

The end game is fast approaching, be this the law commission or the judicial review, this aside, we face an interesting few months.

By Wayne Casey

The Plot Thickens!!

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THE PLOT THICKENS

We at the Club have recieved information from a source within Addison Lee
that Mr John Griffin attended a meeting with Norman Baker ( Parliamentary
Under – Secretary Of State For Transport ) today. Tuesday 17th April.

The very same Mr Baker who went on record as saying about taxis that..
” They drive rather slowly in my experience to keep the clock
ticking over”.

Our information is that the issue of bus lanes was high on the agenda.
We at the LCDC will be applying for a FOI request for this meeting
to find out exactley what was said….and by whom.!

WATCH THIS SPACE

Read what Mr Baker said about the taxi trade in June

A transport minister sparked a storm among black cab drivers today by suggesting some trundle along slowly to rack up fares.

Cycling minister Norman Baker‘s quip was met with anger at the taxi rank. Cab meters add a charge based on time when the speed falls below 10.4mph.

Appearing at the Commons transport committee, the Liberal Democrat was highlighting how his department was seeking to axe unnecessary and ancient legislation.

He told MPs: “I think there is an offence of furious driving which only applies to taxi drivers because they used to be Hackney Carriage drivers, from about 1847.

“I must admit I have not seen any taxi drivers driving furiously; they drive rather slowly in my experience, to keep the clock ticking over.” He later told the Standard: “It was a light-hearted comment which I think some people will see a grain of truth in.”

Taking us for a ride: Tories hit by new cash-for-access row over taxi contract

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DAVID Cameron was hit by a new cash-for-access row last night over revelations a major Tory donor held talks about lucrative Government work with a Cabinet minister.

Taxi tycoon John Griffin, a star of TV’s Secret Millionaire who has given the party more than £250,000, used a lobbyist to set up the meeting with Philip Hammond when he was Transport Secretary.

The Addison Lee chief’s visit to the Department of Transport came less than a month after he gave the party two £50,000 donations on a single day, Electoral Commission records show.

Mr Griffin, whose London firm has a £170million annual turnover, discussed cutting the Government’s ministerial car service with Mr Hammond and employing firms like his own instead. He also talked about transport during the Olympics.

Last night the donor said he had also been to parties hosted by the Prime Minister at Downing Street and at Mr Cameron’s own home, where the PM’s wife Sam and the couple’s children were also present.

The visits to No10 were not revealed in the lists of wealthy backers entertained there, which aides were forced to produce after the cash-for-dinners scandal.

Disgraced Tory Treasurer Peter Cruddas resigned after boasting “premier league” supporters who give more than £250,000 are wined and dined by Mr Cameron and could even have a say on policy.

The latest cash-for-access row will come as a big blow to the PM who is still reeling from revelations about super-rich party donor Bill Ives, who was given a police caution for harassing his ex-wife.

Yesterday the Department for Transport insisted it was “entirely appropriate” for the Secretary of State to meet bosses of big transport firms.

But former Deputy PM John Prescott blasted: “It’s scandalous that Addison Lee paid the Tories a quarter of a million pounds, then touted for Government business.

“The taxpayer shouldn’t be taken for a ride by these modern day highwaymen.”

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle added: “It’s shocking a ‘premier league’ donor was given this kind of access to the then Transport Secretary.

“People will rightly be asking if ministers were willing to have their ears bent by vested interests, either at ‘kitchen suppers’ with the Prime Minister or in official meetings with ministers.”

Details of Mr Griffin’s meeting with Mr Hammond, who is now Defence Secretary, came after he sparked anger yesterday by ordering his drivers to use bus lanes. At the moment rival black cabs can use the lanes but private hire vehicles are banned.

The issue was raised by Mr Griffin at his meeting with Mr Hammond on October 13 last year, official minutes released under freedom of information laws show. The records reveal: “They discussed the Olympics, provision of secure cars for ministers and the background of the development of Addison Lee as a company.”

Mr Hammond “made clear no decision had been taken and that any option to move away from the current model for delivering the service towards private sector provision would have to be completed in accordance with public procurement rules”.

Mr Griffin told the minister that “having a dedicated car pool was an expensive luxury that private companies no longer provided for their employees”.

The minutes state he said: “They tended to leave it to other people, such as Addison Lee, to provide an ‘on demand’ service where the car and driver would not necessarily remain the same.”

Mr Griffin last night insisted he was not fishing for contracts and said he would be much better off talking to civil servants because they are “more influential”.

Mr Griffin said he deals mainly with FTSE 500 firms. He added: “They are our people. The big shots, not politicians. Politicians don’t have contracts but I like to go along and say hello because it is civil.”

He added: “Politicians are not running the country. Businessmen are. They are the housewives. We give them the money.”

Mr Griffin also sought to play down his access to Mr Cameron.

He said: “I’ve been twice to Number 10 Downing Street with about 70 other people there. I never spoke to him personally. I wasn’t going to be a brown-noser.”

Mr Griffin confirmed he had also been to the PM’s Notting Hill home around three years ago for a summer tea party which was attended by Sam and their kids.

He added: “I think there are people out there, quite forceful, who think ‘I’ve paid some money and you owe me something’, maybe there are, but I’m not that person.”

A spokesman for Mr Hammond said last night: “He does not recall having any information about donations to the Party at the time or when he subsequently met Mr Griffin in October 2011.”

The Conservative Party added: “There is no question of ­individuals gaining an unfair advantage by virtue of financial contributions.”

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Story taken from the daily mirror

TFL LETTER TO PHD WARNING THEM NOT TO BREAK THE LAW AND ENTER THE BUS LANES!!

Important information for all Private Hire Drivers and Operators
Under current regulations it is illegal for London private hire vehicles (PHVs) to drive in Bus Lanes operated by Transport for London (TfL) and London Local Authorities except when picking up and setting down passengers.

On Saturday 14 April it came to our attention that a letter had been issued by a director of Addison Lee plc to its PHV drivers in which he stated (among other things) that they were “fully entitled to use the bus lanes” and that he would indemnify them in respect of fines and other liabilities incurred as a result of following his advice.

A company owned by Addison Lee has brought legal proceedings arguing that the current regulations are in breach of European Union law. TfL is contesting those proceedings. The proceedings have not been determined and there has been no order by the court suspending the effect of the regulations.
The court will make its decision in due course. As regulatory authority for taxis and PHVs in London, TfL considers the decision to issue this letter inciting drivers to break the law now is irresponsible.

It has called upon them to rescind it. It is urgently considering legal and regulatory action against Addison Lee and will revoke their licence to operate if necessary.
However, quite separately from this action, TfL hereby issues the following notice to all licensed PHV drivers in London:
Under current regulations, driving a PHV in a Bus Lane, during the hours when the Bus Lane is operative (and other than to pick up and set down passengers) is a criminal offence for which PHV drivers may be personally prosecuted.

Those regulations remain valid until and unless there is a court order suspending their effect. There has been no such court order. This means that, as a PHV driver, you must not drive in Bus Lanes other than to pick up and set down passengers.

If you do so, you will be committing a criminal offence and you will be personally liable to prosecution, irrespective of any indemnity which anyone else may purport to give.
TfL has power to suspend or revoke a PHV operator’s or driver’s licence if it is no longer satisfied that the licence holder is fit to hold such a licence.
Please take note that:

o drivers who repeatedly contravene traffic regulations,
including by intentionally driving in Bus Lanes, other than to pick up or set down passengers, may be considered unfit to hold a PHV driver’s licence; and

o operators who encourage such conduct may be considered unfit to hold a PHV operator’s licence.

TfL requests operators to bring this notice to the attention of all their PHV drivers.