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Weekly thwarts council bid to keep sex pest cabbie’s name secret

A weekly newspaper has thwarted a council’s attempt to keep secret the name of a disgraced taxi driver who pestered a vulnerable woman for sex.

The Hereford Times criticised Herefordshire Council after revealing it held a secret meeting to revoke the licence of Mohammed Mashud Ahmed.

The Times has now named Mr Ahmed after obtaining a confidential decision document of the meeting and questioned how many more similar cases have been kept from the public.

The document revealed details about the secret meeting of the council’s taxi and county transport officer panel, including how it heard Mr Ahmed “took advantage” of his passenger, who was a sex worker.

The Times splashed on the issue last week

The Times splashed on the issue last week

It stated he “harassed her for sex” and on several occasions asked for her phone number and “requested her services.

Mr Ahmed’s legal representative told the secret hearing it would “bring great shame on the Asian community if this was to get out” and described his client’s actions as “a great mistake”.

The panel said it was Mr Ahmed’s responsibility as a licensed driver to take his passenger home safely as requested, but she “had no choice” but to stop the journey short – leaving her to walk home along unlit country roads.

Times audience and content editor James Thomas told HTFP: “The documents from the meeting, marked as confidential by Herefordshire Council, were sent into us and it was shocking to see that a complaint like this was all dealt with behind closed doors.

“We asked Herefordshire Council more than a week ago for a comment about the secret meetings, which take place at least once a month, but it has not got back to us. We are continuing to push.

“This complaint was serious, nobody can argue the other way, with a taxi driver accused of pestering a vulnerable passenger for sex.

“The committee which has these secret meetings rightfully called the complaint ‘so serious and concerning as to public safety’ that it was left with no choice but to revoke his licence.

“You would think that the council would be keen to show the public that complaints are taken seriously and measures such as CCTV in cabs, which backed up the passenger’s account, were used to protect passengers.”

“The council’s own website only has two mentions of the secret panel, with one saying the meetings are held in private, with not even the decision documents published, to protect the identity of applicants – presumably those wanting to become a taxi driver.

“In our view though, that does not cover those accused of serious wrongdoing where they fail in their responsibility to ensure the safety of passengers and take them home. This woman was left in the countryside and faced a walk home along unlit roads with no pavements.

“The decision was made to publish because it’s obviously in the public interest. This is just one complaint upheld against a taxi driver in Herefordshire. How many more are there here in the county, or even across the country?”

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson told HTFP: “The council is sometimes required to make decisions concerning the fit and proper status of licensed drivers, which it does through a panel of expert officers including the police and safeguarding.

“This is in accordance with our Taxi Policy which can be found at Taxi and private hire licensing policy – Herefordshire Council .

“Under the council’s constitution, (4.2.64) no written statement, report or document will be made available for public inspection which contains confidential or otherwise exempt information.*

“The panel hears matters of a confidential nature under civil law, and in accordance with our constitution and our Taxi Policy, such papers are therefore only circulated to the driver. There is no necessity to publish these in the public domain, other than as a record of officer decision.”