The way that Vosa approached its investigation into the operations of Commercial Vehicle Solutions (CVS) was as near to entrapment as it was possible to get, it was suggested by defence counsel at Leeds Crown Court earlier this month.
In November of last year, 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 Britain. Together with Richard Lawson, MD of Spirit Auto Logistics and successor Spirit Motor Ttansport, they also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud HGV operators.
For Collins and Gosling, Robert Smith QC said that the defence case was that CVS tried to operate within the law. Somewhere along the line Vosa (now DVSA) decided to try and catch out CVS after observing Spirit Motor Transport vehicles were operating with CVS O-licence discs in their windscreens. They did so, so that they could launch a prosecution, claimed Smith.
If Collins and Gosling had known that agents of Vosa were planning to obtain evidence to launch a prosecution, and that someone at the Office of the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) was going to ensure that CVS never got to public inquiry, they would have ceased operations immediately, Smith told the court.
CVS were never informed that what they were doing was illegal and that if it continued it would be prosecuted, claimed Smith. When Collins and Gosling were interviewed Vosa were just not interested in their explanations, he added.
Smith claimed that Collins was given advice by senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell and he acted upon it, passing it on to Gosling, Lawrie and Edwards. CVS told the OTC what they were doing from day one, and were told by representatives of the OTC to carry on doing what they had been doing until they heard to the contrary. This effectively gave a green light to what was going on, according to Smith.
Smith claimed in court that CVS never heard to the contrary. There was to be a public inquiry at which the services offered by CVS were to be
discussed, and where they believed they were going to explain their services, he added. They never got the chance as the public inquiry was put on hold, Smith claimed.
CVS had found a genuine way of operating within the law and did so, claimed Smith. The fact that Vosa and the traffic commissioners didn’t like it was immaterial, he told the court.
The case continues.
By Michael Jewell