FOI request detail

Re: FOI-2410-1617

Request ID: FOI-2652-1617
Date published: 13 June 2017

You asked

In the meanwhile, I will also refine my search to the emails sent and received by one employee, Paul Smithers, relating to the chauffeur companies PCS Events ltd, also known as PCS, and its agents or employees, between January 1, 2014 and March 2, 2016. Also I would like to sent a copy of any internal reports or other similar documents about PCS and documents/reports that detail investigations into the company, its owner Mr John Murphy and, its director, Mr Paul Arslanian and its/their suitability to hold a licence.

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-2652-1617


Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 28 March 2017 asking for correspondence. Please accept my apologies for the delay in our response.


Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.


PCS Events Limited

In August 2014 Transport for London received a dossier from an investigative journalist through Angry regarding the activities of a London Private Hire Operator – PCS Events Ltd trading as Professional Chauffeur Services.


This dossier was forwarded to be investigated by the Taxi and Private Hire Investigation Manager in September 2014. In the dossier it was alleged that PCS Events Ltd were using their London Licence to provide drivers and vehicles to undertake Private Hire Bookings from both Birmingham and Manchester Airports where they were providing these vehicles for Business Class Passengers from Emirates Airline.


Their Head Office is based in Runcorn, Cheshire where they are also licensed as a Private Hire Operator with the local authority, Halton Borough Council. It was also established that PCS Events Ltd had no vehicles or drivers licensed with Halton Borough Council. PCS Events Ltd also had an Operators licence issued to them in Northumberland.


TfL Investigation

It was established that PCS Events Limited was licensed as a London Private Hire Vehicle Operator by Transport for London on May 2014 with their licenced operating centre being based in Sydenham, South London. It was also apparent that although licensed in London, their operating centre was not functioning. This was confirmed through a series of investigative visits made by Transport for London Compliance Officers in October 2014, March 2015 and June 2015 to the registered address for their London licensed private hire operating centre. The investigation discovered that no bookings had been taken through the London operating centre. Staff working for PCS Events in London confirmed the London centre was not operational and Driver and Vehicle records were not checked as the centre was not operational and not accepting bookings.  In their application for a London Private Hire operators licence, the phone number provided by PCS Events Limited, was the same phone number as their head office in Runcorn.


Investigation by TfL established that drivers working for PCS Events Ltd in vehicles licensed for private hire use who were meeting on average a total of 7 flights per day at Birmingham or Manchester Airports.  TfL investigations also established that PCS Events Ltd also supplied vehicles to Newcastle Airport to meet the Emirates flight that landed there daily. Through investigations it was also found that  PCS Events Ltd undertook bookings for such clients as the BBC.


Some, but not all of the drivers and vehicles supplied to meet airline arrivals were licensed by TfL as private hire drivers and vehicles.  It was also established that none of the journeys had been booked through their London operating office, but had been booked and dispatched via their Runcorn office.


In the initial investigation TfL identified 11 drivers working for PCS Events Limited who had TfL licences, with at least another 12 PCS drivers having private hire driver’s application packs sent to them. TfL also further identified during investigations another possible 74 drivers that could also be PCS drivers licensed by TfL.


TfL’s investigation also found approximately 72 vehicles licensed by TfL between May 2014 and April 2015)  being used by PCS Events Ltd. TfL contacted the relevant enforcement authorities in the areas, who were already aware of the activities of PCS Events. This resulted in TfL participating in a joint operation at Birmingham International Airport in March 2015.


During this operation 16 PCS Event Ltd vehicles were stopped. Four of these drivers and vehicles were licensed by TfL, however only one of the vehicles which was licensed by TfL was being driven by a licensed driver. The other 3 licensed drivers/vehicles were being driven by unlicensed drivers or unlicensed vehicles.

It was established that none of the bookings had been made through the London Office and that none of the vehicles or drivers that were not licensed by TfL were licensed by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, the local licensing authority.


It was also brought to the attention of TfL that PCS Events Limited had supplied vehicles to provide transport services to the National Soap Awards held in May 2015. Again it was established that none of the bookings for the London licensed vehicles had been made through the London office.


From investigations and information obtained TfL established in July 2015 that although PCS Events Limited were not using TfL licensed drivers and vehicles correctly, they had not breached the Private Hire Vehicle (London) Act 1998, this is because PCS Events Limited were not accepting or dispatching private hire bookings from their London operating centre , but from their licensed centre in Runcorn and were therefore not committing any offence under London legislation, but were breaching The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in both the Birmingham and Manchester areas.


However, we are not obliged to supply the specific information you have requested, in accordance with the statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 30(1) of the FOI Act.


In this instance the exemption has been applied as the information is held only for the purposes of ascertaining whether a Private Hire operator is complying with the regulations, in accordance with our responsibility for regulating the private hire trade in London. This information contains details which otherwise wouldn’t have been made available to TfL and the exemption applies to protect our ability to investigate, as well as clarify and confirm details on specific issues regarding general licensing concerns brought to our attention. The prejudice would be caused by disclosure because it would affect TfL’s ability to engage with the public, as well as the taxi and private hire trade, and would inhibit the free flow of information.


Disclosure of this information has the potential to negatively affect future investigations by inhibiting the free and frank discussion and reporting of areas of concern both from the trades and members of the public due to the possibility that such discussion is likely to be disclosed to the wider public.


The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest. We recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, but in this instance when applying the public interest test it is important to recognise that the purpose of the exemption is to protect the effective investigation and prosecution of offences, and that public authorities require a safe space in which to operate without disclosures which could affect the performance of our regulatory duties.


We feel that the balance lies in favour of protecting our ability to investigate potential breaches at present and in future.


If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.


Yours sincerely


Lee Hill

FOI Case Officer


FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London


Back to top

Want to make a request?

We'll email you the response within 20 working days.

We'll publish the response online without disclosing any personal information.