Two More Taxi Drivers Convicted Over Illegal Rides at Henley Regatta

Two private hire drivers illegally plying for trade have been fined following undercover checks at Henley Regatta.

On Friday 15 December at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, Mumtaz Ahmed Ismail, 55, of Thirlmere Avenue, Reading, was ordered to pay more than £4,500 after being convicted of two counts of illegally plying for hire and two counts of driving without insurance.  He also had 14 points added to his DVLA driving licence, meaning he is now banned from driving for six months.

Mr Ismail was caught during a ‘test purchase’ operation in Henley when plain-clothed licensing officers from South Oxfordshire District Council and neighbouring authorities checked to ensure that out of area drivers were not picking up passengers illegally at the Regatta and taking them on un-booked, uninsured and often untraceable journeys.

Mr Ismail was stopped on 29 June 2023 when he wrongly agreed to take an undercover officer to Reading for a flat rate without having a booking in place.  Mr Ismail was then caught again under the same circumstances just two days later.

Mr Ismail failed to attend court on 17 November 2023 and was convicted in his absence of all four offences.  Sentencing was then adjourned until 15 December to allow him to attend and provide any mitigating circumstances before sentencing.

In a separate case on Friday 17 November 2023 at Oxford Magistrates’ Court, Harish Surendralal, 63, of Kennet Side, Reading, was also convicted of illegally plying for hire at Henley Regatta and of driving without insurance.

Mr Surendralal was caught during ‘test purchase’ operations at the Regatta on 30 June 2023.  He had wrongly agreed to drive an undercover licensing officer to Reading for a flat rate.  There was no booking in place and making this agreement immediately invalidated Mr Surendralal’s insurance.

As a result of his actions, Mr Surendralal was ordered to pay £1,186 and had six points added to his DVLA driving licence.

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Henley has repeatedly been targeted by drivers from outside the district attempting to operate illegally at the Regatta.  These individuals put people’s safety at risk and take work away from those who play by the rules.  Our officers have been very successful in stopping those involved and we won’t hesitate to prosecute anyone who is caught in the act.”

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