COUNCIL chiefs have been accused of acting as judge and jury after deciding a Stratford taxi driver was probably guilty of a sexual assault despite police saying there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Stratford District Council revoked the driver’s taxi licence last November following allegations he had touched a woman passenger with learning difficulties inappropriately.
After Warwickshire Police decided there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution, the driver appealed the council’s decision to revoke his licence.
The council’s original decision was upheld last week by magistrates in Nuneaton, which led the council to issue a press release on its Facebook page which named the driver and stated “on the balance of probabilities” he “had carried out the alleged sexual assault and that he was no longer a fit and proper person to hold a licence”.
The press release continued: “The district council had carried out further investigations of the matter in the interim period, and the evidence presented to the magistrates’ court showed to their satisfaction that the decision to revoke (the driver’s name) licence was in fact right.”
But it provoked an angry reaction on social media with the council accused of ‘victimisation’.
One person wrote: “This is absolutely disgusting…accusing a hard working citizen who has lived in Stratford all his life, been a taxi driver for 24 years and also been a licensee.”
Another responded: “So much for innocent until proven guilty, more like a witch hunt! Makes me feel ashamed to come from this town.”
And another added: “The most disgusting, brutal, victimisation I have ever seen. Stratford District Council has ruined a man’s life with no thought for his welfare.”
Stratford District Council declined to comment further when contacted by the Observer.
At the appeal hearing the driver was given three weeks to again appeal the council’s decision to crown court. Magistrates also awarded costs to the district council.
* Stratford District Council has just issued the following statement:
“Following receipt of a complaint, in the interests of expediency the district council has removed news release ref 02/2019 dated 4 April from the website and other platforms.”