Stoke-on-Trent haulier Genesis 2014 (UK) Ltd has had its licence revoked for the second time in three years after a public inquiry (PI) heard that founder Marcus Hughes, who was disqualified in 2018 for failing to inform the traffic commissioner (TC) of his 12-year prison sentence for supplying cannabis, still played “a significant managerial role” at the company.

In 2018 the company had its licence revoked and Hughes lost his transport manager’s repute after a PI heard about his conviction for supplying cannabis and a second for his part in a £250m VAT fraud.

Hughes was arrested in 2005 after HMRC seized 2.5 tonnes of resin from his operating centre in Blyth Business Park, Cresswell, Staffordshire, from which he ran haulage business Abbey Freight as a sole trader.

When Hughes’ licence was granted in December 2014 for Genesis 2014 (UK) he was still serving his 12-year prison sentence, which ran until 2017, although was no longer in prison.

The PI heard that Hughes had answered ‘no’ on the GV79 application form when it asked if the applicant had any convictions.

In February 2019 Genesis, which had an operating licence for 30 trucks and 30 trailers and employed 90 staff was granted a new operating licence by West Midlands TC Nick Denton, after its directors Helen Walker and Tracy Greening, who is Marcus Hughes’ life partner, agreed to restructure to ensure Hughes had no influence or control over the company.

However, in late 2019, the DVSA investigated Genesis after receiving a tip-off that Hughes was still in control of the firm.

The investigation uncovered evidence of serious drivers’ hours offences and vehicles driven with no digital tachograph card inserted. Six drivers told investigators Hughes was the manager, whilst others said Hughes had encouraged them to remove their card and continue to drive.

Hughes was not interviewed because the investigator “found him to be intimidating” the PI heard. However the investigation concluded Hughes was still in control of the firm.

As a result of the investigation, a driver conduct hearing on 18 November 2020 saw ten Genesis drivers suspended for between 14 to 16 days for making false records, but no action was taken against Hughes as a driver, due to insufficient evidence.

Genesis was summoned to a PI the following day (19 November 2020), where Denton found that Hughes had, despite his disqualification, continued to play a “significant managerial role” within the company, with six out of 13 drivers interviewed by DVSA identifying him “as the boss” and another producing evidence Hughes was “involved, on a daily basis, in such matters as route planning and the dismissal of staff”.

On the balance of evidence Denton decided to revoke the firm’s licence from 1 April 2021 for three years, since the firm was “not capable of sufficiently disassociating itself from Marcus Hughes”.

Denton also disqualified Genesis transport manager David Hughes who is Marcus Hughes’ brother, for a year to 1 February 2022, for delegating his responsibility to oversee the fleet to an unqualified member of staff.

Denton added that David Hughes must also have been aware of his brother's continued involvement with the firm, in defiance of his disqualification.

However the TC stopped short of disqualifying directors Helen Walker and Tracy Greening, noting that they had both carried out director duties and may not have been “fully aware” of the full extent of Marcus Hughes’ continuing interaction with drivers.

Both Genesis’ and Marcus Hughes’ disqualifications will end on 1 April 2024.