‘Accidentally deleted’ email prompts second PI

Commercial Motor
August 31, 2022

A Birmingham builders’ merchant has succeeded in having a traffic commissioner’s (TC) decision to revoke its O-licence set aside and the case reheard after a tribunal said there had been an “administrative error”.

HRA Builders Merchants had its O-licence removed by TC Nick Denton and the company and its directors were disqualified after he found it had operated vehicles before its O-licence was granted
(CM 17 March).

He also found that the business, which ran four HGVs, had failed in an undertaking that disgraced director Zaman Ali would have no involvement in the business and it had failed to provide “simple” tachograph information, as well as failing to appear at a subsequent public inquiry (PI).

The company appealed the decision to the upper tribunal on the grounds that it had informed the TC both of the directors would be abroad at the time the PI took place and were therefore unable to attend.

In its decision, the tribunal said the Office of the TC had accepted that it accidentally deleted an email sent by director Ansar Ali and it was very likely to have been the one in which he had requested a postponement. This was not brought to the attention of Denton and he went ahead with the hearing believing that the directors’ failure to attend was unexplained.

During the appeal hearing, Ali explained that he and his fellow director had already booked flights to Pakistan to attend their sister’s wedding, but he acknowledged that the email he sent the OTC was brief and had not gone into much detail.

In its decision, the tribunal said: “On the face of it, more than one undertaking has been broken and there is reason to think that vehicles may have been used unlawfully prior to the granting of the licence that the TC revoked.

“But we have decided we cannot go so far as to say that had there been a PI and had the TC heard from Anwar Ali and possibly Saika Bibi, he would inevitably have decided to revoke and/or would inevitably have decided to disqualify HRA and each director indefinitely.

“We have concluded, notwithstanding that HRA and its two directors might possibly have an uphill struggle, that the proper, appropriate and fair course of action is to set aside the TC’s decisions.”

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