Taxi driver banned over girl’s claims loses licence appeal

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse. - Credit: Archant

A TAXI driver has lost an appeal against his licence ban after a court was told he made ‘inappropriate suggestions’ to a teenage girl.

Philip Woodall’s licence was revoked on October 24 by North Somerset Council after it received a complaint against him.

The 50-year-old unsuccessfully appealed the decision at North Somerset Courthouse on December 4. Mr Woodall said he had been a taxi driver for 13 years and worked for Apple Central Taxis.

He said he had picked the teenager up from Worlebury and drove her to Weston’s Bournville estate where they talked about photography, in which he has a business.

The mother of the teenager’s boyfriend sent a letter of complaint to the council, and the girl said she also reported the incident to the police.

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Sioux Isherwood, a senior licensing officer for North Somerset, said: “The letter outlined a complaint with a North Somerset taxi driver where he made inappropriate suggestions to her son’s 16-year-old girlfriend.

“I contacted Apple on that day to ask for details of the driver and the journey and was advised it was Mr Woodall.

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“From my point of view, as a local authority representative, it is a public safety issue.

“The test we would put forward is ‘would we put member of own family with that driver’?

“Some people might say it’s an occupational hazard and you get complaints levelled at you. But they are few and far between.

“I’m not suggesting Mr Woodall is a danger to society but my responsibility is public safety and to make sure vulnerable people in a taxi are safe.”

Mr Woodall said he had wanted the teenager to give evidence in court so he could question her complaint.

He said: “All of what she is saying is just not true. I didn’t do or say anything.

“She was sat in my car for 25 minutes talking about photography. If she was scared or frightened, or if I tried to hold her hand, why didn’t she try and go? It’s because it didn’t happen.”

Magistrates said they took into account the complaint and a previous conditional caution Mr Woodall had received from the police.

They decided on the balance of probabilities Mr Woodall was not a fit and proper person to hold a hackney carriage licence, and refused the appeal.

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