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Unlicensed minicab driver convicted of plying for hire

An unlicensed minicab driver was yesterday convicted for plying for hire. Omar Gouaalla appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 17 July 2013 and pleaded guilty to plying for hire as well as accepting a booking without holding a private hire operator licence.

Gouaalla was fined £200 for each offence, plus a victim surcharge. He was also ordered to pay £100 towards TfL’s costs.

Gouaalla, was caught plying for hire by Transport for London’s (TfL) Taxi & Private Compliance team on 19 October last year at the junction of Wardour Street and Whitcomb Street. A TfL Compliance Officer saw Gouaalla assisting passengers into a licensed private hire vehicle. When Gouaalla was questioned by the Compliance Officer he admitted that he was unlicensed, the journey was not pre-booked and that he knew he should not have agreed to take the people.

Helen Chapman, TfL’s General Manager of Taxi & Private Hire, said: “We welcome the court’s decision which should act as a clear reminder that breaking the law will not be tolerated and can result in a criminal conviction. This driver was wilfully putting the safety of the public at risk by pretending to be a legitimate driver fully aware that he had not gone through the thorough criminal and medical checks that we insist on before we licence a driver. As well as that he was uninsured and stealing work from legitimate taxi and private hire drivers.

“This conviction has come about thanks to the important work carried out by our Compliance Officers, who are out every night of the week to enhance the safety of the travelling public in London.

“This is a timely reminder to the public that only licensed taxis (black cabs) can be hailed on street or outside a venue and any minicab journeys should be pre-booked through a licensed private hire operator, details of which can be found through our free Cabwise app.”

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