Connect with us

UK

Uber loses its license to operate in London

Published

on

Uber is to be sensationally stripped of its licence to operate in London in a huge blow to the ride-hailing firm.

The dramatic announcement today by Transport for London chiefs will dismay 3.5 million Londoners who have come to rely on cheaper rides.

The decision also raises questions over the future of 40,000 minicab drivers who ply a trade with Uber in the capital.
Mayor Sadiq Khan, who heads up TfL, said after the shock ruling that “companies must play by the rules”.

Uber said its users and drivers would be “astounded” by TfL’s decision and accused the transport body and the Mayor of “caving in” to a small number of critics.

The firm confirmed it would “immediately” challenge the decision in the courts.

However the technology giant’s expulsion by TfL will delight opponents, including the black cab trade, who have criticised its safety record.

Others have raised concerns over the San Francisco company’s business methods and argue it has contributed to worsening traffic congestion on London’s streets.

Uber’s lawyers will now pore over the decision which is almost certain to be challenged in a lengthy courtroom battle.

TfL ruled that Uber was “not fit and proper” to hold a private hire licence and had shown a “lack of corporate responsibility” in relation to public safety.

Its licence is currently due to expire next Saturday, September 30. The app firm has 21 days to appeal the decision. However, they can continue to operate on London’s streets while the legal process is exhausted.

In May Uber’s licence was extended for just four months, instead of the usual five years, raising uncertainty about its long-term future in London.

The issue is politically sensitive for the Mayor although both his officials and TfL stressed that he was not personally involved in the decision. The decision was made by TfL chiefs on the advice of lawyers.

He is understood to be concerned about the safety of the Uber service, amid claims of alleged sex attacks by drivers, but also aware that banning the firm will spark a backlash from drivers and users.

When TfL proposed strict new private hire rules that would have limited Uber’s operations in 2015, more than 200,000 people signed a petition against them and most of the proposals were dropped.

In today’s ruling, TfL raised concerns over Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and how it obtained enhanced criminal records checks for drivers.

In August the firm was accused by police of allowing a driver who sexually assaulted a passenger to strike again by not reporting the attack, along with other serious crimes.

Weeks later the vetting process for thousands of drivers offering the under-fire service was declared invalid, after TfL decided minicab firms had to use its chosen contractor to apply for a DBS check.

It flagged up Uber’s approach to how medical certificates were obtained – for example drivers using an online GP service via video rather than having a check in person as the regulations insist.

The transport body also queried Uber’s use of Greyball software, which could be used to block regulators’ access to the app.

Despite being one of the world’s most popular apps the firm has not been without controversy since it first appeared on London’s streets in 2012.

Earlier this year, a tribunal ruled that the company should treat two drivers as workers and pay them the minimum wage and holiday pay.

It was one of many legal battles, regulatory disagreements and driver strikes that have taken place across the globe – in addition to a string of internal problems.

Earlier this month MPs on the all parliamentary group on taxis claimed the US firm was not a “fit and proper operator” following a string of alleged sex attacks by drivers.

They claimed police figures showed an allegation of rape or sexual assault against Uber drivers is made every eleven days.

The group, chaired by Labour MP Wes Streeting, wrote a letter to TfL urging it to follow the example of other cities and revoke Uber’s licence for operating in the capital.

Earlier this week TfL increased the cost of licences for the largest minicab firms, including Uber, up to £2.9 million, to cover extra enforcement costs.

Mr Khan said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.

“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standard we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.

“I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to licence Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security. Any operators or private hire services in London need to play by the rules”.

Tom Elvidge, General Manager of Uber in London, said: “3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision.

“By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.

“To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.

“Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the UK. This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.”

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “The Mayor has made the right call not to relicense Uber.

“Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers.

“We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the Mayor and TfL, and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets”.

However, London Assembly member Andrew Boff said: “This is a hugely damaging decision by Sadiq Khan that will effectively put 40,000 people out of work at the click of a finger.

“The Mayor consistently tells us London is open but in shutting down the operations of an innovative market leader like Uber he has caused immense reputational damage to our city as a global business hub.

“With 3.5million registered users – almost half the city’s adult population – Uber has shown to be providing a hugely beneficial service to Londoners.

“Sadiq Khan has ignored their needs and instead believed the smears and propaganda propagated by Uber’s rivals.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

UK

London stabbing murders: 18-year-old arrested on suspicion of killing two young men on same night in Camden

Published

on

THE INDEPENDENT — An 18-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of murdering two young men who were stabbed to death within two hours of each other in north London.

Police confirmed the deaths of Abdikarim Hassan, 17, and Sadiq Aadam, 20, in Camden on Tuesday evening.

The suspect was also arrested on one count of grievous bodily harm after a 16-year-old boy was stabbed outside a block of flats. He remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Mr Hassan died in front of his mother after being stabbed in the chest at around 8.30pm. Mr Aadam died a short time later, with witnesses saying he had been slashed with a samurai sword.

Despite being given first aid by police, both men died at the scene of the stabbings.

Police say Mr Aadam and a friend were chased by a group of four men along an alleyway before the attack. The friend was unharmed.

Paul Considine, the detective chief inspector leading the investigation, said: “What is clear is that there were three violent attacks, by a group of men armed with knives, within about two hours of each other and within about a mile of each other.

“I need the public’s help to establish the exact circumstances in which two young men were murdered and another seriously injured, and to identify the people responsible.

“Today, I am asking local residents or those people who were out in the area that night to think back – and if they saw something that may help us, please get in contact. I can understand why some people may be reluctant or nervous about coming forward but we need your help. We will treat your information in the strictest of confidence.”

Mr Aadam is reportedly the third member of his family to die in a knife attack in five years. Mohamed Aadam, his brother, was murdered in the middle of the day in Camden Town in September, weeks before his 21st birthday, The Camden New Journal reported.

Their cousin, Mohamed Abdullahi, also known as “Lefty”, was murdered in June 2013 aged 20.

Mr Abdullahi’s father and the Aadam brothers’ uncle, Aydarus Ahmed, has campaigned to end knife violence since his son’s death.

“The frequency with which young men are prepared to take each others’ lives is shocking,” Mr Considine said. “We all have a part to play in preventing this. If you know something about these murders then please do your part in helping us with this investigation.

“One line of enquiry that we are urgently pursuing is that a blue van was seen in the area of the two murders. If you saw a vehicle that caused you concern due to how it was being driven or the people inside it then please get in touch with us.”

London has seen large rises in knife crime since then. Recorded incidents rose by 23 per cent in the capital during the 12-month period to the end of September last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Continue Reading

Crime

Two Somali men stabbed to death in north London as 2018 toll reaches 15

Published

on

Two men have been stabbed to death within two hours of each other in the same London borough, bringing the number of people fatally wounded with knives in the capital in 2018 to at least 15.

The Metropolitan police launched two separate murder investigations into the killings on Tuesday night but said they had not ruled out the possibility of a link between them.

The first victim was found with stab wounds in Bartholomew Road, Camden, at about 8.30pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was named by family members as 17-year-old Abdikarim Hassan.

Officers were later called to reports of a disturbance in Malden Road, Camden, at about 10.15pm, and found 20-year-old Sadiq Adan Mohamed with serious stab wounds. He was also pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests have been made.

Hassan came to the UK from Somalia when he was two years old and was the eldest of six children, his uncle Yusuf Ahmed said.

He was a student at Westminster college and was a “good guy” who was “always smiling” and liked playing football, he said.

Elsewhere in London, a 24-year-old man who was shot in the head in Westminster on Tuesday night remains in a critical condition in hospital. Two people were arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder.

Reacting to the most recent stabbings, Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “London must come together to make it clear that this cannot continue. We will not police our way out of this problem. There is a role for all of us – London’s public, our partners and the police.

“There will be young people out today who are carrying knives. Stop and think: do you really want your life to end?”

Police deployed extra patrols across Camden overnight, while a section 60 order – which gives police the right to search people in locations where they believe serious violence will take place – was in force until 7am on Wednesday.

Official figures show 2017 was among young people since at least 2002. Forty-six people aged 25 or under were stabbed to death in London, 21 more than the previous year, according to police figures.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has faced criticism for his handling of knife crime, said: “This morning I am asking the prime minister and the home secretary to urgently meet with me, my deputy mayor for policing and the commissioner of the Metropolitan police service to discuss what more can be done across government – including policing, youth services, sentencing, health services, probation and prisons – to tackle the evil of knife attacks on Britain’s streets.”

The latest phase of a Met police operation to fight knife crime resulted in nearly 300 arrests and the seizure of more than 250 weapons. Throughout the week-long operation officers recovered 265 knives, six firearms, and 45 other offensive weapons.

Continue Reading

Crime

Father cleared after judge says evidence of FGM on six-year-old was ‘wholly inconclusive’

Published

on

Detectives have promised to learn lessons after the groundbreaking trial of a father accused of allowing his six-year-old daughter to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) collapsed.

A judge at Bristol crown court ordered that the 29-year-old father be found not guilty of child cruelty and criticised aspects of the case against the man.

Outside court, police, who investigated the case for two years, said they fully accepted the decision but remained certain FGM was taking place in the UK and would continue to work to tackle the problem.

There was anger from friends and family of the father, who believed it was wrong to prosecute him, and outside court there was a minor scuffle between some of his supporters and anti-FGM campaigners.

The investigation was launched after a worker for the Bristol-based charity Integrate UK claimed the man, a private hire driver from the city, had told him during a short taxi ride that his daughter had undergone a “small” procedure.

Police were called and – more than two months later – the girl was examined by the designated doctor for safeguarding in Bristol.

The girl’s family insisted she had not undergone FGM but the doctor, Lindsey Mackintosh, reported a small lesion.

Mackintosh told the jury: “I was concerned that this may represent a form of FGM.” When the girl was examined nine weeks later by a consultant gynaecologist, nothing could be seen.

At the end of the prosecution case, Judge Julian Lambert agreed with the defence team that the man had no case to answer.

He described elements of the case against the father, who is of Somali origin, as “deeply troubling” and called the account of the key witness “inconsistent”. The jury was ordered to return a not guilty verdict.

There have been no successful FGM convictions in the UK. Afterwards, DCI Leanne Pook, Avon and Somerset police’s force lead for FGM, said she fully accepted the court’s findings.

Addressing the judge’s concerns, she said the time lapses were unavoidable. “We weren’t dawdling. There’s a whole host of complexities connected with this issue,” she said. “That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep trying. We’ll take some lessons from this and we’ll apply them next time.

“FGM remains a deeply entrenched practice and we know these harmful procedures are happening in this country right now. I will do my utmost not only to bring perpetrators to justice but to stop this from happening in the first place and give a safer future for younger girls affected by this issue.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) described the prosecution as “unusual and unprecedented”. A spokesperson said: “Where we feel there is sufficient evidence, and it is in the public interest to pursue, it is right that we put cases before the court so that a decision can be made by judge or jury.”

Lisa Zimmermann, the director of Integrate UK, said it was shameful that there had not been a successful FGM prosecution in the UK.

She said the case had been brought under child cruelty rather than specific FGM legislation, adding: “The CPS and safeguarding services must protect young girls by taking urgent and serious action to ensure that perpetrators feel the full force of the law. Where there is evidence of genital mutilation, the case must be prosecuted under the FGM act.”

The father left court without comment. The website Bristol Somali Media, a bilingual community site, tweeted that FGM was wrong – but activists and charities were wasting public money and destroying the lives of innocent families.

Continue Reading

TRENDING