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Transport Benevolent Fund - 2019
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June 26 2019
By Mike Jewell

Mike Jewell is the industry’s leading legal journalist, covering all key cases brought before Public Inquries, Tribunals, Magistrates and Crown Courts

Philip Higgs' ban upheld after
STC Bell YouTube post

Court of Appeal rules disqualification was reasonable after 'intrusive, distressing and intimidating campaign'

Former STC Bell was targeted after 'making a decision adverse to Mr Higgs'

The Court of Appeal has dismissed appeals against the disqualification of Blackpool-based Philip Higgs, who posted a video on YouTube allegedly showing former Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC) Beverley Bell speeding.

Mr Higgs was appealing against the decision of the Upper Tribunal upholding the decision of Deputy Traffic Commissioner John Baker to disqualify him from holding a PSV O-Licence for 12 months, after holding he had lost his repute, and his revocation of the six-vehicle licence held by Catch22bus, formerly Oakwood Travel.

'Damage, embarrassment'

Giving judgement, Lady Justice Sharo said that Mr Higgs' conduct was targeted at the STC in consequence of her performing her functions in making a decision adverse to Mr Higgs.

His conduct amounted to a serious invasion of privacy, and inevitably led to the considerable upset and distress reported to the police.

The conduct did not merely involve following and filming the STC in an attempt to obtain footage that might harm her reputation and standing. It also involved posting a video on YouTube in an attempt to cause her maximum damage and embarrassment.

Mr Higgs was at best uncaring about the impact on the STC. It was likely that he wanted to cause her distress and was acting out of malice. His conduct showed animosity, resentment and a tendency to take the law into his own hands.

'Knew it was wrong'

The seriousness of what occurred was compounded by the video being uploaded and sent through the post using a false identity.

Mr Higgs knew what he was doing was wrong, hence his decision to cover his tracks.

The connection back to Mr Higgs was only discovered after specially trained police were able to trace him.

His conduct could properly to be characterised as an affront to the regulatory system.

Mr Higgs was a man who was unprepared to accept regulatory action or confine himself to the legitimate routes available for redress, but was prepared to and did operate outside the system by maliciously targeting the decision-maker responsible for overseeing and administering the regulatory system through an intrusive, distressing and intimidating campaign designed to destroy or seriously damage her reputation.

'Attack on process'

Mr Higgs knew what he was doing was wrong and demonstrated neither remorse nor any real insight about the implications of his conduct, appearing instead to consider that the ends justified the means.

Mr Higgs intended to create an intimidatory atmosphere for others involved in traffic adjudication and such conduct represented a direct attack on the very essence of an independent adjudicatory process.

The decision that the company had lost its good repute and that Mr Higgs should be disqualified from holding or obtaining a PSV O-Licence for 12 months was a reasonable one.

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