Defence cross examines Trading Standards Officer

Today, 26 January 2017, at Chester Crown Court, the defence cross examined Andrew Jackson, Lead Trading Standards Officer.

First, a number of statements were read to the court, including the transcript of an interview with Mr Simon Williams.

In February, 2014, Mr Williams was interviewed by Mr Jackson. Mr Williams answered a series of questions, and explained in the interview his role as an MoT tester and how the process works, including the act of logging into the system to conduct the test.

Mr Williams denied not conducting tests, and said a man called Steve would drop the car off with a piece of paper with the last six numbers of the vin number, and the registration number. Steve was described by Mr Williams in the interview as tall, short hair and rather well spoken.

“He would either wait or come back about 45 minutes later after I’d done the MoT”, Mr Williams said.

It was disclosed in the interview that Mr Williams did know a little about PCS Chauffeurs and the type of clients they worked for, including an airline and high-end passengers.

Asked about mileage discrepancies between MoT’s, Mr Williams said: “Can’t explain it, really can’t explain it”.

Mr Williams confirmed he was never called by any of the defendants in relation to MoT’s.

A statement was read from Mr Murphy who was interviewed by Trading Standards in 2014, where in a prepared statement strongly denied having any knowledge of “car clocking”.

Mr Murphy stated he was unwilling or able to run the business due to his poor health and only did around two days a week over the last few years.

From time to time Mr Murphy did go out for high profile clients, such as footballers or celebrities and remained a figurehead of the company with no day to day running of the business.

Mr Murphy’s statement said that he did get updates from time to time from Kevin Batty.

The statement also mentioned an informal visit from Trading Standards in 2011, where the person visiting was surprised at the scale of the business.

Mr Murphy was told they were acting on a tip-off about vehicles for sale.

The statement said that “We are regularly attacked by competitors because of PCS’s high-profile clients or the allegation could come from a former employee.”

Mr Murphy denied knowing Mr Williams or K Motors and denied knowing about “car clocking.”

An email was read to the court where it was confirmed that there wasn’t any mileage restriction on PCS vehicles for insurance purposes.

Mr Arslanian’s prepared statement in July 2014, confirmed his role in the company going from a company secretary, to a director and five percent shareholder.

The statement read to the court stated that he dealt with tender services, IT, management of health and safety.

The statement said Mr Arslanian would not condone “car clocking” and knew nothing of it.

He also said competitors large and small have repeatedly attacked PCS over the years, including a competitor impersonating a licensing officer at their Scottish office in 2011, resulting in PCS having to ask their lawyers, Brabners, to deal with it.

The court then heard a statement from an interview in September 2014, with Mr Kevin Batty.

Mr Batty said he started working at PCS after being recruited through a recruitment agency.

He liked the challenge, helping PCS turnaround their business and became the company’s finance director and manager. He helped with the transfer of vehicles between PCS Shuttles and PCS Events Limited.

Mr Batty denied any knowledge of “car Clocking”. Mr Batty also mentioned the incident at their Edinburgh office and that previous visits in 2011 was a result of a competitor or ex-employee.

A statement was read out to the court from an interview in October 2014, where Laura Murphy gave a prepared statement.

She confirmed she had been employed at PCS since 2006, in administration and invoicing, but had no involvement in the company except for being a signature on the company bank account.

She confirmed she was on a basic wage and dividends and had no knowledge of car clocking. She was aware of an eBay account but until 2014 was unaware of the account name.

She confirmed she would have wrote letters, but on the basis as told to do so. Also, Ms Murphy said that during management meetings “car clocking” was never mentioned.

Mr Pratt, QC, asked Mr Jackson: “Accordingly a visit in 2011 was a routine visit, was this different to your visit in 2013.”

Mr Jackson confirmed it was.

Mr Rouse, QC, for Mr Murphy started his cross examination by showing a map of the UK to the jury and the court of PCS offices.

Mr Rouse then put it to Mr Jackson that many, many cars had been sold and were not suspected of being “clocked”. Even some vehicles checked by Trading Standards have no evidence of being “clocked”.

Mr Jackson confirmed that he had stopped at 110 vehicles in his case and that not all vehicles were alleged to have been “clocked”.

It was confirmed by Mr Jackson that the PCS STAR system was not capable of changing mileages on vehicles.

Mr Rouse, QC, said: “We can’t conclude any of these vehicles were “clocked” at PCS premises”, to which Mr Jackson confirmed he couldn’t.

“You didn’t confiscate any vehicles or stop vehicles from being sold?”, added Mr Rouse.

Mr Jackson was then asked: “The minimum figure vehicles have travelled is a calculated guess?”

“Based on documents obtained”, Mr Jackson replied.

Mr Rouse, then asked, excess charge per mile, how much would be chargeable? Mr Rouse then pointed out to the court an example “excess mileage” charge.

“Do you now accept that mileage excess charges have no relevance in this case?”

“How many cars returned to the finance Company? Did you ever encounter any vehicles returned to finance or leasing companies?” added Mr Rouse.

Mr Jackson replied, “No I haven’t found vehicles being returned to the leasing companies”.

All the defendants deny the charges. The trial continues.

Comments turned off for legal reasons.

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