Former drug smuggler loses O-licence appeal
A convicted drug smuggler has had an appeal against a deputy traffic commissioner’s (TC) refusal to grant him an O-licence dismissed.
Peter Elsagood received a 14-year prison sentence in 2003 after a court found him guilty of conspiracy to import heroin and cocaine using a lorry fitted with a false air tank. He was released in 2009 but when he applied for an O-licence to run four HGVs and four trailers under the company name P Elsagood Transport Services, it was refused after a public inquiry (PI) in October 2018 found he did not have good repute.
Deputy TC John Baker said he had to balance the positive and negative factors and that the length of the sentence and the fact that it did not conclude until 2017 counted against Elsagood (CM 2 May).
Elsagood appealed the decision, despite accepting he had “one of the worst convictions a person seeking an O-licence could have”. He argued that the deputy TC should not have had access to information from a previous PI in June 2018, at which Elsagood appeared as a witness and in which adverse views were expressed in respect to his veracity.
His concern was that there was a possibility the deputy TC had been biased – despite the fact that the TC in the June PI had recused herself from the October PI where Elsagood’s application was refused.
But the appeal tribunal disagreed with him and dismissed the appeal.
In a written judgment, it said: “We do not see how it can persuasively be contended that a fair-minded and informed observer would think that the deputy TC might be biased.”
The tribunal added that there was no reason why the material given to the deputy TC at the October PI should have been excluded and that it “had relevance to the issues the deputy TC was called upon to decide with respect to repute”.
“He was entitled to take account of Mr Elsagood’s evidence and the TC’s view of it at the previous PI and, similarly, he was entitled to accord significant weight to the conviction for the drugs offences, particularly in the context of the offender now seeking a licence to operate large commercial vehicles,” it concluded.
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