Transport for London (TfL) has this Friday (22 September) informed Uber London Limited of its intention not to renew its operating licence when it expires at the end of this month after concluding the firm is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.
TfL say it reached the decision for a variety of reasons including the companies approach to reporting serious criminal offences, how medical certificates are obtained and how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are made. They also said they were concerned about the use of software called Greyball which they claim can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days. Uber can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted which it is believed will mean the service will continue to run after the licence expires.
TfL granted a 4-month PH Operator Licence in May of this year whilst it concluded its consideration of a five year licence.
TfL said in their statement on the decision, “TfL’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.
“TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. “
Uber London Limited was licenced as a Private Hire (PH) Operator in 2012 and says that it has 3.5million users in London and 40,000 drivers. The arrival of the firm brought about an angry response from black cab drivers who claimed it represented unfair competition and the company has attracted criticism over its treatment of drivers. Supporters of the service believe it contributes to passenger safety as a photo with the name of the driver is provided at the time of booking. It is feared that many of the drivers formerly employed by Uber will return to touting for trade on a freelance basis with no record being made of fares they take.
TfL have declined any comments on the issue until any appeal has been concluded.
Computing giant Microsoft yesterday announced plans to open a flagship store in London on Regent Street at Oxford Circus.
Regent street is one of the world’s most exciting shopping destinations and represents another step in Microsoft’s journey to meet their customers.
According to David Porter, Microsoft Head of Stores: “The United Kingdom is home to some of our most passionate fans. We already enjoy connecting through our partners and in our digital stores, and look forward to bringing a physical store to the region as another great choice for customers to experience the best technology from Microsoft”
Investing in more solutions for customers Microsoft says they are proud to see the impact that their physical stores have on the communities where they already operate, from greater confidence in customers who visit in person and then shop online, to partner ecosystem. Customer experience in Microsoft’s physical stores generates confidence and trust in products and services.
Cindy Rose, head of Microsoft in the U.K. and partner throughout the location selection process, says: “We couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central London at Oxford Circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet. We know our customers and fans, whether they are from London, the broader U.K. or just visiting, will love our bold plans for the space. This will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with Microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”
Connecting one customer at a time According to Microsoft, digital skills are critical in today’s world as the speed and pace of technological innovation accelerates. Microsoft Stores offer free workshops and digital training programs integrated into their daily store schedule so that students, entrepreneurs, educators, families and creators can succeed in the modern workplace. Opportunities are regularly hosted for customers to discover and learn through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs, including YouthSpark camps where can learn about computer science, take Minecraft coding classes, leverage LinkedIn for business, and participate in Xbox game design sessions.
Microsoft Store is a place to have fun! They can be great hubs for local gaming communities, where fans gather to play their favorite games like “FIFA” or “Forza” during events or in one of the competitive tournaments in our Mixer NYC Studio.
“We are excited to extend similar experiences to our customers in London”.
Creating opportunity with the local community
The Microsoft approach to retail is simple — a complete and quality experience for customers to interact directly with Microsoft. The giant enters markets with the goal of strengthening the experience, creating more career opportunities, and contributing to the local community and entire region. “We have seen this executed in our flagship locations in New York and Sydney — some of my favorite examples include seeing U.N. Youth Advocates gathered in our store to share their projects and ideas for empowering people in their own cities, towns and villages, or when students joined us from Regional New South Wales to participate in coding and Minecraft events” says Porter.
“Our store stands for the best of Microsoft”, he adds.
He concluded by saying:
“We are excited to showcase gaming, mixed reality, AI (artificial intelligence), and all technology that empowers people to achieve more. Look for more details in the future”!
The former wife of an oil and gas trader has been awarded £453m in what is believed to be one of the largest divorce settlements ever agreed by a UK court. It confirms London’s status as the favoured location to bring divorce claims against super-rich spouses.
The couple in the case were not identified by the family court judge, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, but the man, 61, is originally from the Caucasus, while the woman, 44, was born in eastern Europe.
Both were raised in Russia and met in Moscow in 1989, when she was studying in the city. He had been married before. The couple moved to London in 1993 and have two children. They both have accused each other of having affairs. The woman insisted their relationship had continued after her affair and only ended in 2013.
In his judgment, Haddon-Cave found there was a “subsisting marriage”, because the couple continued to holiday together and sleep together, and the woman was provided “with the unrestricted use of two of his credit cards and, latterly, the use of his yacht, plane and helicopter”.
The judge noted: “In 2013, for example, [the man] purchased jewellery for her worth €400,000.”
The yacht, helicopter and plane were bought in the man’s name in 2014 and then transferred to offshore companies, the judge said. During the hearings, the man gave evidence to the court via video-link from the yacht, which cost €260m and underwent a €42m refit in 2016.
The judgment read: “She said that marriages can survive affairs, and this marriage was one of them. She said [the man] had had numerous affairs himself during the marriage and had a child by another woman in 2013.”
The woman said she needed £39.27m to purchase a home in England as a result of the divorce, as well as £27.89m to buy a property abroad. She also needed £5.36m a year to live on.
The man was non-resident in the UK for tax purposes, which meant he could only spend 90 days a year in Britain. The family often enjoyed holidays at their house in France, at ski resorts and in the Maldives.
The judge noted: “They slept in the same bed when they were together, had sex, went on holiday regularly together with the boys, and shared a joint bank account.”
The woman produced evidence to show that the relationship continued after her affair, providing photographs of the couple with their sons and at a “lavish 50th birthday party in 2005, with [the woman] giving a speech for him”. She also produced a photograph of the couple “in an intimate embrace in the Maldives in 2013”.
She provided “documentary evidence, including emails with architects and contractors, showing that she was actively involved in the renovation of the holiday property in France, and planning their ‘dream home’ in the Caucasus”.
The woman was also involved in purchasing works for their art collection, which was valued at $112m. The judge noted that the man referred to her as “my wife” in emails to “organisers of an art fair, his solicitors, Amex, Sotheby’s and [the estate agent] Knight Frank”.
Concluding his judgment, Haddon-Cave said the couple had marital assets worth £1bn. Their wealth, he added, had been built up over the course of the marriage through “equal contributions to the welfare of the family, and should be subject to the sharing principle”.
A split approaching 50:50 was therefore appropriate. The woman had originally sought £350m, but because the two parties had not agreed a settlement she claimed a further £93m, comprising chattels at their English home valued at £2.5m an Aston Martin car in Surrey valued at £350,000, and the modern art collection valued at $112m.
Haddon-Cave said: “The total value of her claim is now, therefore, £453,576,152. This comprises some 41.5% of the total marital assets. I find that this figure is justified in all the circumstances.”
Commenting on the high settlement figure, Rosie Schumm, a partner in the family team at the law firm Forsters, said: “This big-money divorce settlement represents yet another example of the English courts’ unparalleled generosity towards the financially weaker spouse. This generosity is rooted in the fundamental principle that breadwinners’ and homemakers’ respective contributions to a marriage are of equal importance. With this in mind, London remains seen as the divorce capital of the world
“Whether or not this settlement was indeed the biggest ever, as has been reported, is impossible to say. This is partly because an increasing number of high-net-worth couples are electing for private divorce and arbitration, where the proceedings and the details of the final settlement are kept entirely confidential.”
Deborah Jeff, head of family law at the London solicitor firm Seddons, said: “This was a long marriage of 20 years, meaning the starting point for a settlement is equal sharing of assets … Today’s judgment reinforces that, as ever, London remains the place to divorce for the less-wealthy spouse, where their perhaps non-financial contribution is rewarded with the biggest dividend.”
The former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who has campaigned for greater transparency in family justice, said the secrecy around the case undermined “the fundamental underlying principle” of open justice in British courts.
He said: “Here we have a case involving a foreign billionaire which has been heard in a family court in London entirely behind closed doors … Yet the British taxpayer pays the judge’s wages and the wages of the court staff. They pay for every glass of water poured and every light switched on. Surely members of the public have a right to know something … This isn’t open justice, it isn’t a transparent process and it isn’t right.”
He dragged her into Victoria Park in east London and subjected her to a two-hour ordeal, raping her three times, taunting and degrading her, playing “mind games” with her, and stealing her bra and mobile phone.
Snaresbrook crown court heard that he had been on parole at the time, having being released from prison 13 months earlier from a life sentence for a carbon copy rape committed in 2006, when he was 17.
Sentencing him, judge Martyn Zeidman, said McCann would not be considered for parole for at least nine years and that it may never happen.
“The parole board will need to appreciate that in my view you are, and are likely to remain, an exceptionally dangerous violent criminal who poses the most dire risk to women even after the expiry of the minimum term.”
The judge said he was sending a copy of his remarks directly to the board.
McCann was arrested as a result of the distinctive modus operandi and striking similarities to the 2006 attack. He pleaded guilty to three counts of rape, assault by penetration and robbery.
Kate Bex QC, prosecuting, said McCann had been drinking with his girlfriend and family, left the pub and lay in wait in Victoria Park shortly before midnight. He was seen on CCTV following another woman before the one he targeted.
He subjected his victim to degrading sexual acts and interrogated her during a “long drawn out psychological game”. He kept asking her “what are we doing” and when his victim replied “you are raping me” he appeared to like hearing the phrase, Bex said.
McCann was convicted in 2006 of raping and robbing a 30-year-old woman in nearby Mile End Park, taunting her and ordering her to “make noises like you’re enjoying it”. At one point he stroked her hair, telling her she was his girlfriend.
He tried to claim the sex was consensual, but was convicted of one count of robbery, two of sexual assault, one of assault by penetration, one of causing a person to engage in sexual activity, six counts of rape and one of attempted rape.
He was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 3,094 days, but appealed and the minimum sentence was reduced to seven years. He was released on parole in December 2015.
Zeidman said: “Friday 13 January 2017 is a date that your victim will never forget. You behaved as a monster. Raping the victim in every possible way, and doing it in a manner that amounted to torture. Playing mind games, asking her what she thought you were going to do next and taunting her for almost two hours.
“In addition to the physical pain you set out to degrade and humiliate her in ways that are so cruel and gross that I will not identify them any further. I am worried that you might even relish a recital of them.
“Just hours later you married your pregnant girlfriend. I just wonder what sentence you would impose if someone had done this to your wife or female friends.
“This wrongdoing is made even worse by the serious violence that you have carried out before” and the 2006 offence was a “further horrendous rape with many aggravating features,” he said.
HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE SAPEURS - SOCIETY OF WELL DRESSED AFRICAN MEN
He had taken McCann’s guilty plea and remorse into account, he added.
Edmund Vickers QC, for McCann, said: “He is disgusted at himself and that disgust has culminated in a failed suicide attempt.” He added that his client was on suicide watch, had experienced violence in childhood and had a dis-social personality disorder.
McCann was granted parole despite the judge in his 2006 trial warning he had serious concerns he would remain a danger to women, and sending a transcript of his sentencing remarks to the prison.
The parole board has said: “The board is deeply concerned to learn of the circumstances which led to the further serious offence and we can only imagine the trauma and pain this has caused the victim.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to learn the lessons to help prevent such terrible events happening in the future.”
The pile of money left on unused Oyster cards has reached a quarter of a billon pounds, official figures show.
It has led to fresh calls for Transport for London to scrap the rule that someone buying an Oyster, paying the £5 deposit and loading it with cash can only claim a refund after 48 hours.
There was hope today that the restriction could now be eased so passengers can obtain refunds more quickly.
The amount of cash on dormant Oysters — those left unused for 12 months or more — is increasing by more than £1 million a month and now stands at a record-breaking £250.87 million. The number of such cards has risen by two million to 45.55 million in six months.
Caroline Pidgeon, chairwoman of the London Assembly transport committee, said: “It is staggering that TfL has now accumulated a huge cash pile of over a quarter of a billion pounds.
“Since I first raised this issue five years ago the amount has increased fivefold and shows every sign of continuing to even dizzier heights. TfL must make it easier to reclaim money, starting with ending the 48-hour restriction on refunds. TfL must step up the information provided to the public over how they can reclaim their money back.”
A report by London TravelWatch ex-amining the impact of Tube ticket office closures recommended changes including removing the 48-hour restriction, saying it “does not represent good customer practice, especially for visitors who are only here for a short time”.
The watchdog said: “We understand TfL are looking into [ending the 48-hour rule], as before this can be done they will need to make technical adjustments and ensure there is protection against credit/debit card fraud.”
A TfL spokesman said it was examining reducing the 48-hour restriction and the delay was due to “our wider fraud prevention measures”.
Shashi Verma, TfL’s chief technology officer, added: “We’re committed to ensuring customers can get back credit on their cards. We regularly publish how people can obtain a refund … from any ticket machine, our visitor information centres or on 0343 222 1234.”
“The guys had speakers and a little mixer, microphones and lighting,” Shotta said. “It was like a mini rig, a mobile rig.”
Tube rave: the scene on the Bakerloo line (YouTube)
“The first two girls who got on started dancing immediately to the music. They couldn’t believe what was going on. It went from there.
“If people weren’t dancing they were getting their phones out and taking pictures. Everyone really embraced it.”
The unusual scenes, described by police as a “fully-fledged rave”, went on for 25 minutes before officers brought the fun to a halt as the train reached Paddington.
He said: “I remember saying something about ‘my Paddington crew’ and then the police got on. We did it for 25 minutes though. It was like a mini rave.
“People didn’t want it to stop. The commuters just wanted to stay on.”
Rave: Police had to break up the event (YouTube)
He said police were very polite and even helped the group off the train with their heavy equipment.
The Gravesend MC, who broke Eminem’s record in 2015 for the most words squeezed into one track, is more used to playing in front of thousands at festivals around the globe.
Over his career he has won awards, played across Europe, regularly performed on Radio One and 1xtra and amassed a huge online following.
But he claimed the Bakerloo line gig was one of his finest ever.
“I’m used to playing at big festivals. To do something like just, with literally 30 people so up close and personal, it was brilliant.
“I was wondering how people were going to take it but everyone was embracing the vibes.”
“They always say on the Underground no one makes eye contact, everyone’s in their own world, so I’ve never seen anything like it on the Tube,” he said.
“It’s got to rank up there with the best I’ve done, it was so unique.”
“There’s a lot of mad stuff going on in the world and we brought some light-hearted fun to the Tube,” he said. “It was fantastic.”
A spokesman for British Transport Police told the Standard: “At 10.40pm yesterday evening, BTP officers were called to the northbound Bakerloo platform at Paddington station after reports of a party on board a Tube.
“Officers attended and spoke with a man who agreed to turn off the speakers and the light systems, they then left the station.
“Whilst officers relish any opportunity to experience underground drum and bass, we’d kindly ask DJs to refrain from using the Tube as a pop-up club.
“It may be the Easter holiday but there is a time and a place and we’d ask everyone to consider other passengers using the network.”
A THOUSAND naked swimmers bared all as they joined the fifth annual Sydney Skinny ocean swim and leapt in the sea with abandon.
The event saw 1,335 swimmers strip off at Cobbler’s Beach today for the “spectator free” session in the water.
It is held at a secluded beach in the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Despite the thrill of nudity being an appeal for some of the attendees there are strict rules about when they can whip off their clothes.
They do not strip off until they are on the sand and when they emerge from the water are handed sarongs to cover up with.
Beachley told Honey9, ahead of the event: “Every single body is welcome. I encourage everyone to jump in the water and feel, not only the freedom of being nude, but also the healing qualities of immersing yourself in nature.”
“Learn to love yourself, learn to love the body you have and learn to love the skin you’re in.”
All the money raised from ticket sales goes to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.
Last year a calendar featuring naked farm girls caused a sensation in rural communities across Germany.
And a grave digger, the local baker and the town crier might not be the types you’d expect to strip down to their birthday suits – but the “legends of Somerset” bared all for charity.