Two directors and two members of the management team at Ilkeston-based Commercial Vehicle Solutions (CVS) have denied conspiring to defraud the Traffic Commissioners of Great Britain at the start of a trial at Leeds Crown Court that is scheduled to last until March 2015.

MD Martin Collins, sales director Richard Gosling and managers Bruce Lawrie and Tim Edwards, together with Richard Lawson, MD of Spirit Auto Logistics, also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud HGV operators.

Prosecuting, Tim Wigglesworth QC said CVS’s main source of work was truck and fleet rental. The Crown alleged that in 2009 and 2010 the company sought O-licences as a future commodity it could sell or charge operators for using. He further claimed that this company was not financially involved in any firms that used its O-licences.

On a number of occasions the CVS directors had meetings with senior TC Beverley Bell, who will be giving evidence.

In the CVS MD’s report to the board in June 2010, it was stated that discussions with Bell and Vosa (now DVSA) had taken place to pitch Close Asset Finance – CVS’s parent company – as a responsible lender in terms of its culture and compliance.

The prosecution alleged that one of the seven haulage contractors involved with CVS was Spirit Auto Logistics, which had a number of contracts for the delivery of new cars to dealerships.

In early 2011, Spirit Auto Logistics got into financial difficulty and in July that year it went into administration. The prosecution claims that Spirit’s Lawson knew he would not be able to obtain another O-licence for a new company, and so entered into talks with CVS to provide part of his fleet with an O-licence.

A photograph was shown to the jury that the prosecution claimed was of a Spirit truck with a CVS O-licence disc in the windscreen.

The other hauliers involved did not realise the illegality of the scheme, Wigglesworth alleged.

The trial is proceeding.

By Michael Jewell