MD Philip Higgs is seeking full disclosure of the Judge’s report on Beverley Bell
Catch22Bus has released a statement concerning the resignation of Beverley Bell as Deputy Traffic Commissioner and the Department for Transport (DfT) withholding the full report of Sir Alistair MacDuff concerning her conduct.
The statement posted on the operator’s Facebook page read: “Former Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC) Beverley Bell has resigned following an investigation into her conduct by retired High Court Judge Sir Alistair MacDuff.
“The complaints were made by Philip Higgs and Catch22Bus back in March 2015, but the Department for Transport did not start investigating the allegations of ‘serious misconduct’ until almost three years later in February 2018.
“The complaints were made as a result of her conduct at a Public Inquiry which occurred over multiple hearings between April 2014 and May 2015 and resulted in an adverse decision to revoke the licence of Catch22Bus in June 2015. Her decision was successfully appealed in respect of her 39 adverse findings of fact and a further review by another Traffic Commissioner (TC) found ‘no adverse compliance issues,’ overturning the 39 ‘facts.’
In his complaint letter to the DfT, Philip said: “Out of 39 facts, at least 34 are factually wrong and NOT supported by the transcripts or other evidence before the STC when making her decision.”
The statement also noted: “Sir Alistair’s report was issued in draft at the end of June last year and considered a sworn affidavit prepared by the complainant to support the many allegations of misconduct. A final report, following further meetings with Mrs Bell, was issued to the Department for Transport in September 2018.”
In a letter to Phillip Higgs, the DfT said that it had decided not to disclose the report. This was on the grounds of the exemptions in 4(1) and 40 (2) of the Freedom of information Act 2000 (FOIA). The letter, seen by CBW, also stated that Beverley Bell had objected to the release of the report to Philip Higgs and that it could only be released if it was found that there was a ‘compelling legitimate basis’ for the disclosure which the DfT found there was not.
Catch22Bus’s statement also read: “The DfT has declined to investigate another serious complaint into her conduct, made by a haulage operator in 2018, following her resignation.
“Philip added that further action would continue to seek full disclosure of the Judge’s report given the significant damage her conduct has caused to both business and personal reputation.
“Philip wishes to express his appreciation to Sir Alistair MacDuff for what appears to be a very thorough investigation.”
Philip Higgs told CBW: “It appears very unjust that when there is an Inquiry into the conduct of a TC, the report is suppressed and it escapes even being shared with the complainant on the grounds of her ‘human rights and data protection.’ Operators, drivers and Transport Managers do not have this luxury when decisions are made and published by the Traffic Commissioners.”
CBW contacted DfT for a comment, which they were unable to provide due to ongoing legal proceedings.
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