A Reading taxi driver has been ordered to pay nearly £1,000 after being caught by an undercover police officer unlawfully plying for trade during the Henley Regatta.

Umar Ali, 36 of Manchester Road, Reading appeared at Oxford Magistrates Court on January 12 where he pleaded guilty to the offence.

Although he was a licenced private hire driver with Reading Borough Council, he was not licenced by South Oxfordshire and District Council and was not permitted to trade within the district.

He also had six points added to his DVLA licence after not having the right licence and insurance and not wearing his private hire driver’s badge on July 1 2023.

When Ali was stopped by an undercover police officer he agreed to take him to Reading and maintained that he had just dropped off a fare.  

In court, the defendant was described as having previously good character and showed remorse for the offence.

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said “Unlawfully plying for hire undermines public safety as we are not able to check that the driver and vehicle are safe and suitable to transport passengers. It puts other motorists at risk because without valid insurance, damage or injury to other road users would not be covered.

“It also takes business away from our licensed drivers who do follow the rules. Our officers work tirelessly to stop unlicenced taxis from operating in our district and if we find anyone breaking the rules, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action against them.”

As a result of the offence, Mr Ali was ordered to pay a total fine of £420, £168 victim surcharge and £400 costs.

He was told in court that if he lost his taxi driver’s licence with Reading Borough Council due to the prosecution/conviction, he would need to find alternative employment.