Transport for London has been accused of using “bogus” politically motivated reasons to revoke Uber’s licence to operate in the capital.
The taxi-app firm was sensationally stripped of its licence last week, with TfL citing safety concerns over the company’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
The decision was also partly based on Uber’s approach to obtaining medical certificates and running background checks, with TfL saying the company had demonstrated a “lack of corporate responsibility”.
But the Financial Times reported that TfL is responsible for checking the backgrounds of drivers, sparking accusations the charge was “bogus”.
A spokesman for TfL said it would not comment on specifics of background checks while TfL considers Uber's appeal.
James Farrar, an Uber driver and representative of the United Private Hire Drivers trade body, told the FT the system had been politicised.
He said: “To me this reeks. It’s a bogus charge from TfL. Uber will be able to remedy this in court immediately because DBS (disclosure and barring service) and medical certification are prerequisites for drivers getting their licences from TfL.”
A source close to Uber also told the paper: “A lot of people don’t know that drivers are background-checked and licensed by TfL.
“Uber does not get a say on who gets licensed in the capital. Without the TfL licence, they can’t come and drive on the Uber app.”
A City Hall source rejected the criticism when approached by the FT, claiming TfL has made efforts to solve the dispute.
A mayoral aide told the FT: “The ball is in Uber’s court. They now have the time and space to start playing by the rules, and start doing what the law and the regulations require them to do, and then they can keep going.”
Uber has said its 40,000 London minicab drivers would be “astounded” by TfL’s decision and accused the transport body and the Mayor of “caving in” to a small number of critics.
A petition calling on TfL to reverse the decision has already gathered more than 700,000 signatures.