Senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell denied sanctioning the way that Commercial Vehicle Solutions (CVS) was operating its fleet management system for other operators, when she gave evidence at Leeds Crown Court.

In November, CVS MD Martin Collins, sales director Richard Gosling and managers Bruce Lawrie and Tim Edwards, pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud the Traffic Commissioners of Great Britain. Together with Richard Lawson, MD of Spirit Motor Transport, they also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud HGV operators.

Bell said that she had met Collins on three occasions.  It was a key part of the TC’s role to engage with operators. She had never sanctioned or gave assurances about the way CVS was operating.  Collins had never said at any stage that CVS allowed other operators to use its licences.  If he had she would have said that it was illegal.  When Collins requested a fourth meeting in April 2011 she declined on the grounds that TCs should not get too close to members of the industry.

In reply to Robert Smith QC, for Collins and Gosling, Bell agreed that she had granted the CVS North Western licence in 2009 without a public inquiry and that she had granted them interim authority to operate in the North East in 2011. She was aware that deputy traffic commissioner Simon Evans held a preliminary hearing in regard to a CVS licence application in the North West in February 2012 and that he asked DVSA to investigate.  She was unaware that no public inquiry had ever been held.

After her concern about Collins she had removed herself from being lead TC dealing with CVS licence applications at public inquiry.  She was in no doubt that at the last meeting Collins understood what she and her colleagues regarded as legal and illegal operation.  She did not give Collins advice on the law. It was not her job to give operators advice.  He was an intelligent, shrewd, businessman and had understood what she had been telling him.

The case continues.

By Michael Jewell