A TAXI driver has been slapped with a huge fine after illegally picking up fares in the town centre.

Rashid Kayani, of Manchester Road, Reading, was order to pay £1,550 after he was found guilty at Reading Magistrates' Court.

The 42-year-old was caught by two council officers on Bridge Street on January 21 at around 11.45pm.

He was seen picking up two passengers outside House of Fraser and as the council officers approached his car he drove away.

Kayani appeared at court on Tuesday, where he was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine of £500, a £50 victim surcharge and £1,000 costs.

Councillor Sarah Hacker, lead member for Consumer Services, said: “I hope this prosecution serves as a deterrent to drivers who are tempted to work illegally and opportunistically in Reading.”

Test purchases and spot checks are carried out to protect the public by ensuring drivers and vehicles meet the standards set by Reading Borough Council and current taxi legislation.