Consumer group determined to uncover the truth, expose wrongdoing and hold those to account who fail to uphold the law (LTU), was founded in early 2015 by the Secret Squirrel. Little is known of the Squirrel, except that of  a background in intelligence. With a trademark sayings – ‘assume nothing, believe nobody, check everything’ or ‘lead them down the garden path, then kick em in the bollocks’ has led to a loyal following on social media.

It is believed that in late 2009, the Squirrel suffered at the hands of a ‘ride from hell’ in a minicab and this fateful night led to investigations as to why the standards of the industry were so low. This initial look into the workings of the minicab industry resulted in the Squirrel concluding that the industry as a whole – taxis, minicabs, private hire, chauffeurs and limousines – was one of, if not, the worst regulated industry in the UK.

With catastrophic failings by successive governments to bring in new regulations for the twenty-first century, the Squirrel decided that action needed to be taken. It was also found that the trade was being infiltrated by illegal operators, drivers and others who took advantage of the poor regulation and enforcement to conduct illegal or fraudulent activities with impunity.

Normally found operating undercover or working closely with informants, the Squirrel’s identity is a closely guarded secret – even the team at LTU haven’t had the pleasure of a meeting . In early 2014, the Squirrel spotted upcoming journalist and consumer campaigner, Chris Hargreaves who was also investigating the industry from an insurance point of view.

Chris was keen to join forces as his investigation had also opened a giant can of worms, including car clocking, insurance fraud, money laundering and organised crime. It came as no shock to the Squirrel as similar problems had also been umcovered and was very concerned that the “powers that be” were failing to act on credible intelligence and compelling evidence.

Commenting on joining the team at LTU, Chris said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have been given the opportunity to work with the Squirrel. Together over the past three years we have battled to bring cases to the attention of the authorities and relevant agencies.

“It has been a very proactive and successful partnership, even if it is a little unorthodox as we have never actually met. We have achieved great things in such a short time with social media and, and I hope that once we are able to start publishing our joint investigations people will start to appreciate just how much work is to be done to make the trade safe.”

Already, car clocking within the trade has been exposed and how it has reached epidemic proportions because for far too long councils have either turned a blind-eye or failed to spot the obvious problems with vehicles they licence or aren’t licensed as the case may be. Hundreds of millions of miles illegal removed from odometers’, predominantly by the minicab and chauffeur industry.

LTU, has teamed up with leading vehicle checking service , to raise awareness of the epidemic in the national press and media, supported by the trade press. This successful investigation and campaign highlights the determination by the team at LTU, headed by the Squirrel to tackle important issues.

But, it’s not just the trade who are suffering at the hands of rogue operators or crooks. There is a whole other industry that supplies the trade with services and products who are also victims of fraud and criminality. Our goal is to help educate suppliers to the trade to help prevent fraud. As leading experts in the UK passenger transport industry LTU can provide help and advice to businesses across a wide spectrum of sectors – finance, insurance, invoice financing, leasing or finance or banking to name a few areas of expertise.

Finally, consumer and business education to raise awareness of the dangers of using unlicensed illegal passenger transport services. There is a very dangerous misconception that if a service is being provided it must be legal! This couldn’t be further from the truth and we aim to raise awareness to consumers who use these services.

Our experts are also able to help and advice a number of businesses and sectors in how to avoid using an illegal service or to spot one. Accountants, auditors or procurement managers could all benefit from our training and expert advice to enable them to conduct their roles professionally, preventing potential future damage to their reputations.

The Squirrel remains committed to the cause and heads up LTU’s Investigations and Intelligence Unit, whilst Chris brings a journalistic approach to cases.  Together with our associates, partners and the trade we continue to investigate and expose the truth, no matter how long it takes.