A Greenwich operator who “more likely than not” acted illegally by nominating lorries on another firm’s licence while continuing to operate them has been disqualified for three years.
Kent Haulage also had its licence revoked after traffic commissioner John Baker said the case fell into the category of serious to severe conduct, taking into account how illegal use of vehicles was viewed and the fact director Danny Peal continued to attempt to cover up what had occurred.
Suspicions were aroused following a DVSA maintenance investigation, during which the traffic examiner found prohibitions, deficiencies in inspection sheets and driver walk round checks.
But in addition, additional enquiries showed that Peal and Kent Haulage had switched a number of lorries between its licence and the licences of other operators, including Simon Mallia.
It was also shown that the vehicles were owned and insured by Kent Haulage whilst the registered keepers of the vehicles were other operators.
At an Eastbourne PI, Peal told the TC that the use of lorries by Mallia was by way of a hire agreement and Mallia was supposed to pay £500 a week.
Mallia did not attend the PI and the DVSA traffic examiner could find no trace of him at his registered operating centre and subsequent attempts to meet with him had proved unsuccessful.
In addition, no evidence was produced to support Peal’s claim that a bona fide hire agreement was in place.
In his written decision, the TC said: “I do find that it is more likely than not that Mr Peal and therefore Kent Haulage were acting illegally by arranging to nominate vehicles on the licence held by Simon Mallia and continuing to operate those vehicles.
“I do not have to find what the motive for this was but believe it was because Mr Peal had more vehicles than the number authorised and decided to use additional vehicles in the way described.”
He added: “I have limited the period [of disqualification] to three years because this is the operator’s first public inquiry and I believe from his behaviour at the inquiry that Mr Peal has learnt a salutary lesson from the process.”
At the same PI, the TC disqualified Mallia for three years and revoked his licence too.