Oct 24, 2014 17:37 By Sam Rkaina
A cabbie has been convicted of touting for passengers in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.
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Sohail Masood, 34, put on a yellow high-vis jacket with ‘Book a Cab Here’ on the back and approached people at a train station, ahead of waiting black cab drivers.
A court heard he had already clashed with rival drivers outside the rail station in Milton Keynes, Bucks., on a previous occasion before he was arrested.
Masood, who owns Northants-based Starline Cabs, was found guilty of soliciting people for private vehicle hire.
It is believed to be the first time the Crown Prosecution Service has managed to secure a conviction for the charge, commonly known as ‘taxi touting.’
Dad-of-two Masood, from Milton Keynes, told the city’s magistrates: “The first time there was an incident between myself and taxi drivers there.
“The black cab drivers were not very happy about it. They were shouting and me and pushing me to try to stop me from what I was doing.
“I stayed calm and did not retaliate. I was just doing my job.”
He said on that occasion police attended and calmed the situation down and told him to move on to diffuse the situation.
Masood insisted that he did not approach anyone and only booked taxis for customers to him who approached him – as the council had told him he could legally do.
But prosecutor Matthew Knight said: “You wore a high visibility jacket that said, book your cab here’.
“Which means that your actions were enticing people to come to you and book their taxi with your company.”
Shiraz Rustom, defending, said Masood was a reputable businessman of good character.
He said: “Mr Masood faces losing his livelihood for something he made the effort to make several checks on about whether he would be breaking any laws. He believed his actions were within the law.”
Masood was given an absolute discharge, meaning he faces no punishment because the magistrates said he had tried to find out if he would be acting within the law.
He was ordered to pay £150 court costs.
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