Five year ban after public inquiry hears of convictions for fraud and cannabis smuggling
An operator has been disqualified after he failed to inform the traffic commissioner about his 12-year prison sentence for supplying cannabis.
Marcus Hughes also lost his transport manager’s repute and the licence held by his company, Genesis 2014 (UK), was revoked after a public inquiry heard about his conviction, plus a second one for his part in a VAT fraud.
The PI heard that Hughes had answered ‘no’ on the GV79 application form in 2014 when it asked if the applicant had any convictions.
However, West Midlands TC Nicholas Denton said he received information in August 2018 that Hughes had been convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis in 2005 after HMRC seized 2.5 tonnes of resin from his operating centre in Blyth Business Park, Cresswell, Staffordshire.
At the time, Hughes was operating as a sole trader called Abbey Freight.
In 2008, while still in prison, he was sentenced to six years, to run concurrently, for his part in a £250m VAT fraud involving the import and export of mobile phones.
At the PI, Hughes submitted a note accepting he had not disclosed the two convictions, but stating that the offences were both linked to the HMRC investigation and it was not the case he had been convicted of one and then later reoffended. He added that the convictions dated back 15 years, were not linked to Genesis, and it had operated without any significant compliance issues.
Hughes’s QC, Adrian Keeling, also pointed out that Genesis was a well-run business and revocation of the licence would cause profound financial hardship to the company and its 68 employees.
The TC acknowledged that Genesis was largely compliant and that there was “nothing remotely in the company’s record, which would have brought it to a public inquiry, were it not for the repute issue”.
He added that it appeared Hughes had put his criminal days behind him, but if he had declared the convictions in 2014 then the application would have been refused.
“Two prison sentences of 12 and six years respectively are extremely serious matters,” he said. “Mr Hughes was still actually serving his 12-year prison sentence, which ran until 2017, at the time the licence was granted in December 2014, although by then he was no longer physically in prison.
“It is inconceivable that either he or the very recently founded company, of which he was the sole director, would have been judged to have the necessary good repute.”
In a written decision Denton concluded that Hughes had lost his good repute and the operator, Genesis, had also lost its repute.
As a result, he disqualified Hughes from being a transport manager for five years and said this was proportional because it “pays some respect to his good record of compliance since 2014”.
He was also disqualified from holding a licence for five years, but Denton added: “I am not disqualifying the company Genesis from holding a licence in the future. It may be that, if it restructures itself so that Marcus Hughes is no longer the controlling mind or majority shareholder of the company, an application for a licence would be eligible.”
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