A PRIVATE hire driver has been fined after he was caught red-handed by a council officer posing as a customer near the site of Reading Festival last summer.

Mohamed Ameer, of Brighton Road, Earley, was convicted in his absence after illegally touting for hire.

The 38-year-old was travelling on Richfield Avenue just after 1am on Saturday, 27 August, when he beckoned a potential passenger despite being in an unlicensed vehicle.

Ameer agreed to take the council officer to Basingstoke for £60, but he did not get far before other officers approached his car and opened the back door.

He proceeded to speed off before the council's team were able to confront him.

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Lead Member for Consumer Services, said: “The large number of people in town for the Reading Festival can result in some people seeking to take advantage of the situation.

“People can unwittingly get into a taxi or minicab without realising they are in an unlicensed vehicle which would not be insured if they were involved in an accident.

“This is why it is important for Reading’s Licensing team to carry out operations such as this to ensure residents and visitors are kept safe.”

Ameer was fined £220 and ordered to pay £1,500 after failing to appear at Reading Magistrates Court on May 19.