# Gray Hooper Holt LLP Solicitors

Fare evasion case studies

 

Mr V was due to be interviewed for a position as a senior IT analyst.  He was also awaiting a pre-action letter from Southeastern after being stopped travelling without a validated Oyster card.  Other firms of solicitors informed him that he should wait for the railway company to write to him.  He could not afford to do this and we agreed to try to expedite processing of his case with a view to having it dealt with before his interview.   After some urgent representations were made, it was possible to have Mr V’s case dealt with now and settled on the basis of payment of costs and compensation.   The whole matter was resolved in less than two weeks, thus enabling Mr V to put the matter behind him when he attended his interview.  He said. ‘I am extremely grateful to you for all your efforts.  I did not believe that it would be possible to sort this out so quickly.  Thank you very much.’    

South Western Railway required Mrs M to attend at their offices in Portsmouth for an interview under caution in respect of serious allegation of fraud over a significant period.  We took our client’s full instructions and critically obtained pre-interview disclosure from the Fraud Investigators before the interview so that Mrs M was aware of the exact nature of the charges against her – duration of offending and sums involved.   This enabled her to prepare thoroughly for her interview with full knowledge of the prosecution case.  There were no surprises for her when she attended with us at Portsmouth.  Together with prepared documentation and appropriate documentation, it was possible for Mrs M to give an excellent account at the interview. (Our attendance was covered under the Gray Hooper Holt LLP ‘Fixed Fee Scheme’.).  The matter was referred to senior management for a final decision, but, after an anxious wait, South Western Railway agreed not to prosecute our client, but to allow disposal in another manner.    

 

 

 

A financial analyst was convicted in his absence of an offence of travelling in a first class compartment with a standard ticket.  Because he had moved address, he was ignorant of the court proceedings until the bailiffs turned up at his new address, seeking to execute the sentence of the court.  We had the client swear a statutory declaration, which voided the original conviction and sentence.  We then liaised with the prosecutor, South West Trains, and its successor company, South Western Railway, and discovered that South West Trains were not seeking to uphold convictions now that they no longer held the railway franchise and that South Western Railway were not taking over their predecessor’s cases.     We informed the court of the situation with supporting documentation and our client’s case was discontinued.  Our client was delighted and was a rare beneficiary of a gap between two franchise holders.

 

Mr P, a civil engineer working in the railway industry, was asked for his ticket at a major  Railway Station.  He had travelled from an outlying station without a valid ticket.  Thoughtlessly, he asked for a ticket from a nearer station.  The inspector put it to Mr P that it would not have been possible to board a train at this station without a valid ticket because it had barriers.  Mr P then admitted his lie and was interviewed under caution.  He tried to explain his actions in a reply to Transport Investigations Limited’s pre-court action letter, but was unsuccessful and received a court summons.   The railway company’s ‘Revenue Enforcement Policy’ states that offering a ‘short ticket’ merits prosecution.  Gray Hooper Holt LLP were able to liaise with Arriva Trains Wales and Transport Investigations Limited to secure an out-of-court settlement agreement.  The railway company informed the court that they were no longer pursuing the case and it was withdrawn from the list.  We were able to achieve this result without divulging our client’s job which would have been professionally embarrassing for him. 

The Fraud Investigation Unit of Govia Thameslink Railway requested Miss P to attend at their offices for an interview in respect of suspected fraudulent claims made under the ‘Delay/Repay’ scheme. Miss P had failed to keep records of her claims and, whilst some of her claims were legitimate, feared that others were not.  We were able to obtain a full breakdown of her claims from the railway company and go through them with our client.  Ultimately it was possible to reach a compromise with the fraud Investigators which avoided formal proceedings in the magistrates’ court.  As an accountant, Miss P was greatly relieved that she did not lose her job or profession.

Mr K, a graphics designer, telephoned Gray Hooper Holt on the morning of his trial.  We explained to him that his defence to a charge of violating Railway Byelaw 18(1) (‘entering a train for the purpose of travel without a valid ticket’) was not a legal defence because the offence was one of ‘strict liability’.  We were able to liaise with the prosecutor and his superiors and, after some discussion, obtain an adjournment of the trial.   We then took Mr K’s full instructions and were able to resolve the matter out of court.  The trial was vacated and Mr K retained his clean record.

 

Mr J was a solicitor who attempted to board a train at Manchester Piccadilly Railway Station with a used ticket.  Challenged by a revenue officer, he panicked and gave a false name and address.   He was reported both for the ticketing offence and giving false details.  Gray Hooper Holt were able to build up a picture of what was at stake for our client and to persuade Arriva Rail North, the train operating company, not to prosecute, but to allow an informal disposal.  Mr J accepted the offer and paid the required sum on the same day that the offer was made.

Mr T, a trainee accountant, was stopped on a TfL bus using his mother’s Freedom Pass.  He initially informed the inspector that he had made a mistake and picked up the wrong pass in his hurry to get to work.  After taking advice from us, he learned that TfL could potentially disprove his account by analysis of the seized Freedom Pass.  He then conceded that he had, in fact, been using the Freedom Pass for some months.  We agreed to take on his case and were able to correct our client’s account with TfL.  After lengthy negotiation with TfL, who are currently operating a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards fare evasion, we were able to agree an out-of-court settlement with TfL which preserved our client’s clean record and enabled him to continue to pursue his career.  Mr T was enormously relieved to avoid prosecution, particularly as he was resident in the UK on a visa.  

Ms A is a healthcare professional working in London.  She had purchased a 2-6 Zone Monthly Travelcard to travel from her home in Zone 6 to her work in Zone 2 but was apprehended by a Revenue Protection Inspector from Govia Thameslink Railway Company for suspected fare evasion offences as her journey took her through Zone 1.  If a journey goes through Zone 1, even if you do not get out of the train, you must be in possession of a ticket valid for Zone 1.  Ms A had no previous criminal convictions or police cautions and was extremely worried about the effect a criminal conviction for fraud would have on her current employment and future career prospects.  When she contacted us Ms A had received a letter from Govia Thameslink Railway Company stating that they were intending to prosecute.  We were able to speak to the prosecutions department and negotiate an out of court settlement whereby the prosecution was dropped upon Ms A paying the rail company's costs and compensation.

 

Mr B was an A Level student travelling home to Hertfordshire with friends after a night out in central London. His friend had purchased his ticket for him, but didn't realise that Mr B was intending to travel to his mother's home a further two stops down the line.  Mr B was apprehended by a Govia Thameslink Revenue Protection Inspector at his destination and was subsequently advised that the rail company intended to prosecute.  Mr B, now studying Fashion at university, wrote to the company explaining how the mistake had occurred, however, the rail company still intended to go ahead.  Mr B was extremely worried about the effect a criminal conviction would have on his wish to travel and work abroad in the future.  We contacted Govia Thameslink and put submissions to them resulting in an out of court settlement for our client.  Mr B was extremely pleased that we had been able to resolve the issue quickly and successfully.

 

Mr D was travelling to work, having purchased a discounted ticket with a Young Persons' Railcard.  A Revenue Protection Inspector from Govia Thameslink Railway checked his ticket and found that the Railcard had expired.  He was subsequently sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution for a fare evasion offence.  Mr D was a medical student hoping to pursue a career in medicine, and was well aware of the effect a criminal conviction for dishonesty would have on his career prospects and ability to travel freely abroad.  We contacted Govia Thameslink Railway and were able to negotiate an out of court settlement and the prosecution was dropped. 

 

Ms F was travelling from her home in London Zone 4 to her work in Zone 1 when she was apprehended en route by a Revenue Protection Inspector.  Ms F had a Travelcard for Zones 1 and 2 but had not tapped in with her Oyster card to cover the journey for Zones 3 and 4.  She was contacted by the Rail company with a Notice of Intended Prosecution.  Ms F was an Accounts Director at a marketing firm and her contract of employment provided for summary dismissal in the event of being charged with a criminal offence.  She was extremely worried  about the effect a prosecution would have on her career and ability to travel abroad.  We were able to contact the rail company and negotiate with them an out of court settlement, whereby upon payment of compensation and the rail company's costs the prosecution was dropped and Ms F's clean record and good character was preserved.   Ms F said "I cannot thank you enough for your help with this matter".

 

Miss L was a Health Care Assistant travelling in London from a Zone 2 tube station to another Zone 2 station passing through Zone 1 as she did so.  At her destination she tapped out with a Freedom Pass belonging to a member of her family.  Freedom Passes are issued to those 60 or over and are not transferrable.  When a Freedom Pass is used to tap out, a light is illuminated on a monitor available to Revenue Protection Inspectors.  Miss L was interviewed by the Revenue Protection Inspector who advised her she was not entitled to use the Freedom Pass.  She had a weekly Travelcard which was valid but only for Zones 2 and 3.  The Revenue Protection Inspector referred the matter to Tfl for prosecution.  Miss L was extremely distressed and very worried about a criminal conviction and its effect on her career.  We contacted Tfl and were able to negotiate an out of court settlement and a withdrawal of the prosecution.  Miss L said "two thumbs up for the great and prompt service".

 

Mr V was prosecuted by Abellio Trains for fare evasion.  He had purchased a ticket from outside London which did not cover the whole journey into a London Terminus.  He used an oyster card  to exit from the London Terminus.  Mr V was summonsed to appear before the Magistrates' Court, but only contacted us a couple of days before the hearing.  Mr V was a trainee in a professional career  and a conviction would have had a devastating effect on his future prospects of pursuing a career in this profession.  We were able to adjourn the hearing and negotiate an out of court settlement with the train company whereby the prosecution was discontinued.  With our help Mr V avoided a criminal conviction and far reaching consequences for his future.

 

Mr X is a Partner in a firm of Solicitors.  He had travelled on Arriva Trains without purchasing a ticket.  He volunteered this information to railway staff at his destination and was told it was not a criminal matter and would receive a fine.  He was subsequently prosecuted by the train company.  The consequences of a criminal conviction for our client would have been fatal to his career, for professionals such as Mr X a clean record is priceless.  Before the court date was listed we were able to persuade Arriva to enter into settlement with Mr X and discontinue the criminal proceedings.  Mr X's clean record was preserved.

 

Dr Y used her husband's season ticket for a journey on South West Trains, unaware that they are not transferrable and she had committed a criminal offence.  She was prosecuted for fare evasion after being interviewed by a Revenue Protection Inspector at her destination.  A criminal conviction would have been very damaging to her position as a Doctor and could have prevented her from pursuing her career.  The BMA, like most professional bodies, require any conviction that includes an element of dishonesty to be reported to them.  Our client was also concerned about the effect a conviction would have on her ability to visit family abroad.  Within 7 days of being instructed we were able to persuade South West Trains to drop a prosecution and accept an out of court settlement .  Such settlements are not recorded on the Police National Computer or the national courts computer, and are not revealed by a Disclosure and Barring Service check. Most importantly Dr Y was able to get on with her life with the minimum of stress.

 

Mr Z travelled on Abellio Trains in a First Class compartment with a second class ticket.  He was interviewed by a Revenue Protection Inspector which resulted in a prosecution for fare evasion.  Mr Z is a company Director and was very concerned about the effect a conviction could have on his career and ability to travel abroad for work.  We negotiated an out of court settlement with Abellio which saved Mr Z from a criminal record.  Mr Z was "extremely pleased and satisfied with the prompt and efficient way Gray Hooper Holt dealt with my situation".

 

Mr M was just 18 years of age when he was apprehended by a First Great Western Revenue Protection Officer at his destination for travelling without a ticket.  He had a valid ticket for part of the journey, but not for the latter part.  The rail company was to decide whether to prosecute him, when his parents contacted us for help.  Mr M had just finished school and was applying to university.  He wanted to pursue a career in business and was very worried about the effect of a criminal conviction on the rest of his life.  Whilst he had no previous criminal convictions or police cautions he had been given three penalty fares in the previous seven months by the same rail company, a factor taken into account by the rail company when deciding whether to prosecute.  We were able to contact the rail company and negotiate an out of court settlement on payment of a fine and costs.  The prosecution would not now go ahead.  The whole family had been extremely worried about the effect of this incident on the rest of Mr M's life, and were very satisfied with the result we were able to achieve. 

 

Mr P had received a court summons to appear at a Magistrates' Court when he contacted us.  He had been apprehended by an Abellio Greater Anglia Revenue Protection Officer at his destination in London having exited the barriers behind someone else without touching out with his Oyster card.  It transpired that the Oyster card was in negative balance.   Although Mr P only contacted us a few days before the hearing we were able to adjourn proceedings to prepare his case.  Mr P had a responsible job as a Security Officer and a criminal conviction for fraud would result in instant dismissal and jeopardise his future job prospects.  Our advice was that if the prosecution went ahead the prospects of an acquittal were modest.  Having secured an adjournment we contacted the rail company and were able to negotiate an out of court settlement  on payment of a fine.  the prosecution was dropped and left his status as a person of good character unaffected.

 

Miss S was a medical student at university when she purchased a discounted ticket for a journey on Arriva Trains Wales.  She did not have a Young Person's Railcard and thus the ticket she purchased was not valid.  She was apprehended by a Revenue Protection Inspector at her destination and was subsequently sent a pre-court letter by the Prosecutions Department indicating their intention to prosecute.   Miss S had no previous criminal convictions and was very worried that a criminal conviction for fraud would prevent her from pursuing a career as a dentist.  This offence would normally merit an automatic decision to prosecute in line with Arriva Trains Wales policy, however, we were able to contact the rail company and negotiate and out of court settlement resulting in the withdrawal of the prosecution.   Miss S said "I cannot express how grateful I am for everything you have done".

 

Mr Z worked in London as an Underwriter.  He travelled into London on Southeastern trains but found when he reached his destination that he had lost his ticket.  He exited the station through the barriers close behind someone else and was apprehended by a Revenue Enforcement Officer.  He was then sent a Pre-Court Action letter advising that Southeastern were considering prosecuting for fare evasion and exiting a station via a ticket barrier in an incorrect manner.  A conviction for fraud would result in Mr Z losing his job and severely compromising his future job prospects.  We were able to negotiate with Southeastern and, upon payment by Mr Z of a fine and costs, they agreed to drop the criminal investigation with no further consequences.

 

Ms B was on a London Bus Services bus when a TFL Revenue Protection Inspector boarded the bus and checked tickets and Oyster cards.  Ms B showed a Child Oyster card which had been issued to her daughter which was confiscated by the Revenue Protection Inspector.  Ms B had used it by mistake as it was in the same wallet as her own Oyster card.  Ms B was charged by TFL with using a ticket issued to another person on terms that are not transferable.  Ms B was very worried and stressed about the threat of prosecution as she worked as a Teaching Assistant and was liable to lose her job if she were convicted.  We contacted TFL and persuaded them to withdraw the prosecution and settle out of court for payment of a fine.  This preserved Ms B's good character and enabled her to get on with her life, "thank you for acting so promptly and sincerely on my behalf".

 

   January 2018

Miss J travelled by train from a station without ticket-selling facilities to a major railway station.  When she sought to purchase a ticket at her destination she made a mistake about the name of her starting station.   She was referred to a Revenue Protection Inspector who interviewed her under caution.  Arriva Trains Wales referred the case to their prosecution agents, Transport Investigations Limited, who sent a pre-court action letter to Miss A.  She replied that she had made an honest mistake and that, as a healthcare professional, acquiring a criminal record would cost her her job and professional status. Transport Investigations Limited refused to accept Miss A's account and proceeded to obtain a summons against her for fare evasion.  Miss A noted a reference to Gray Hooper Holt LLP as specialists in fare evasion in a national newspaper and instructed us to act on her behalf.  After engaging in negotiation with Transport Investigations Limited, it proved possible to resolve the case informally.  The summons against Miss A was withdrawn and criminal proceedings against her were discontinued.   Miss A was delighted by the outcome.

Mr P made a number of claims for compensation against Southern under the 'Delay Repay' scheme.  Southern's Computer highlighted the claims as possibly fraudulent and referred the matter to Southern's Fraud Investigation Unit.  Southern were not satisfied with Mr P's initial written explanation for his claims and invited him to attend at their offices in Brighton for an interview under caution.  

Since he was an accountant, Mr P could not afford to lose his clean record.  He therefore contacted us for assistance.  After taking our client’s instructions, we attended with him at his interview.  We were able to make representations on his behalf which led to an out-of-court settlement of our client's case. In return for paying costs and compensation to Southern, the railway company agreed to discontinue proceedings against Mr P.  He was enormously relieved at the outcome which enabled him to retain his unblemished record as a professional and to keep his job.

 

Mr K, a financial advisor, was in a hurry to keep an appointment in London.  He boarded a Cross Country Trains service with a ticket which covered the first part of his journey.  He intended to purchase the second part whilst he was on board the train.  However, a Revenue Officer put it to him that he was attempting to avoid paying his fare and the matter was reported to Transport Investigations Limited, who carry out prosecutions work on behalf of the train company.  

Mr K was very concerned.  He researched his position and discovered a BBC report on the subject of criminal records. He was shocked at the possible consequences of his actions.  He endeavoured to persuade Transport Investigations Limited to accept that his intentions were entirely honest.  However, they stated that it was Mr K's responsibility to ensure that he had a valid ticket for his entire journey before boarding the train, referring him to the Regulation of Railways Act 1889. 

He instructed us and we were able to come to an informal agreement with Transport Investigations Limited on behalf of Mr K.  Because he contacted us at an early stage of proceedings, we were able to do this before a criminal court summons had been raised.  This is important because the latter may be revealed by an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service(DBS) check.

 

South Western Railway, who have taken over the south west area rail franchise from Stagecoach, have initiated a crackdown on fare evasion and fraudulent rail travel. 

 Miss P was unfortunate enough to be stopped and reported for a ticket irregularity involving her Oyster Card.  The print out of Miss P's Oyster Card usage, going back over two months, produced numerous apparent anomalies.  South Western Railway Prosecutions Department required Miss P to attend for a second interview under caution at their offices.

She researched on the internet which firm of solicitors would represent her best and found reference to us on the site of a national newspaper. 

We prepared Miss P's case and attended with her at the formal interview.  As a result, the Prosecutors took a more lenient view of her travel history and agreed following negotiations to dispose of her case by the payment of the railway company's costs and a sum in compensation for incorrect payments. 

 Miss P worked in the financial sector and was overjoyed by a decision which allowed her to keep her job and career and also permitted her to travel without hindrance to the United States of America, where she had family and business connections.