A sole trader who was convicted for drugs offences and whose truck was used to import Class A drugs into the UK has been disqualified for three years.
Shotts, North Lanarkshire haulier Stuart Waugh Graham had been sentenced to 18 months in prison for producing cannabis and failed to tell the traffic commissioner (TC) about his conviction.
A public inquiry (PI) in May was told that Graham’s son, who was an HGV driver and mechanic, was caught transporting Class A drugs from Belgium in the axle of a trailer when driving for the operator in November 2013.
His son was sentenced to nine years in prison for the offence, while Graham was acquitted at Sheffield Crown Court in May 2014.
After his son was arrested, police raided Graham’s yard and discovered cannabis being grown. He claimed it belonged to his son, but pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The operator told the PI that he did not think he deserved to be disqualified from the industry. He had been working as an agency driver and it took two years until his truck, which was involved in the transportation of drugs, was released after being impounded.
TC for Scotland Joan Aitken said Graham “did nothing to distance himself or his operation from this unlawful activity”, despite knowing that his son was growing cannabis at the yard.
In her written decision last month, the TC said: “I am obviously concerned that any operator should have a Misuse of Drugs Act conviction. I am also concerned that one of his servants and agents, namely his driver son Anthony James Graham, used one of his vehicles specified on the operator licence to import Class A drugs on such a scale as to merit a nine-year sentence.”
The PI followed a separate hearing in September 2014 which saw Graham’s O-licence authorisation reduced to nil following the discovery of an 100% annual test failure rate. That hearing was adjourned until the outcome of an impounding case and the cannabis case at Hamilton Sheriff Court in November 2014.
Aitken said she could not trust Graham with an O-licence and said his involvement with drugs was sufficient to warrant disqualification as he could not demonstrate he had the fitness or repute required of an operator.
He was also unable to supply evidence of financial standing and did not have a transport manager.
The TC said: “A difficulty I had was I did not believe [what] Mr Graham was telling me all. He did not hold back in protesting his innocence but there was bluster to him, a superficiality in his approach, that if he asserted his innocence it would be sufficient to prevent me disqualifying him.
“I take a dim view of a haulier becoming involved with the production of unlawful drugs. Through proximity with unlawful drugs and through employing his son as a driver, Mr Graham imperilled his repute.”
Graham has been disqualified from being involved in the O-licensing regime for three years from 16 May.
- This article was published in the 23 June issue of Commercial Motor. Why not subscribe to get 12 issues for £12?