Firm’s O-licence in jeopardy after tacho interrupter devices discovered

Published: 23 November 2018

Firm’s O-licence in jeopardy after tacho interrupter devices discovered
It was recently found that a haulier who purchased some Blue Stream Scania trucks had tachograph interrupter devices in place in one of the vehicles. This has lead to the operator having their o-licence curtailed while it had been accepted by the Traffic Commissioner that during their time in the vehicle the devices hadn’t been used to interrupt the vehicle’s tachograph.

J&G Riddell Ltd had their licence curtailed over a 3 month period, with 20 to 15 vehicles. During a public inquiry at Edinburgh, TC Aitken heard all evidence regarding the Scania Blue Stream 730, which was in operation by J&G Riddell. The vehicle was checked and authorised by the DVSA in Craigforth on November 18th 2016.

A KITAS gearbox speed sensor had been attached with the vehicle’s tachograph in April 2014; but this had first been altered on October 24th 2016. The driver stated that he had a new tacho fitted by Scania Aberdeen once he had been driving the truck for just over a month.

The device had been showing an internal fault, however the driving lengths and breaks he took were all recorded by the device accurately. While this provided some explanation, there was no further evidence to explain why the KITAS sender had been paired with the device two years before the truck was first registered. Checks showed the sender was drawing an odd amount of current, when cut open an extra circuit board was found inside. This is capable of corrupting tachograph readings.

The operator had all of their other vehicles searched and tested but none were found to have a similar circuit.
The vehicle had been ordered by an independent importer by Mr Riddell. The firm was Moody International, located in Grimsby. The vehicle was driven to Scotland in September 2015. During their search, investigators questioned Mick Moody – the company director. Mr Riddell stated during the inquiry that he had been purchasing vehicles from Mr Moody for over 5 years.

“I can put my hand on my heart that there was no way there was anything fitted on that lorry when leaving Scania Rotterdam or leaving my premises here in Grimsby” said Mr Moody during the investigation.
John Riddell spoke, mentioning he had been a transport operator for decades and he had no explanation as to why he missed the tachograph infringements. More recently he stated his company never used to print the data taken from a computer, but now they do monthly print-outs and highlight any significant information.
He admitted that he would find a refresher course beneficial.

As the inquiry came to an end, TC Aitken gave a written decision: “The proximity of Mr Moody’s business to what was found cannot be ignored. Nor can the business relationship of Messrs Moody and Riddell. Mr Moody did not need another customer for these vehicles, as he had the best of customer in Mr Riddell whom he knew to be in the market for such vehicles and who paid promptly and in full on submission of the invoices.”

“As night follows day I would expect Mr Moody to deny any involvement as he did when DVSA interviewed him under caution, just as Mr Riddell has denied any involvement. Mr Riddell did not sever business relations with Moody. On the contrary, his evidence was of purchasing a further two Scanias through Moody, it is difficult to believe an honest haulier would ever go near a source which had provided vehicles with such devices.”

She accepted that the interrupter devices hadn’t been used and the driver behind the wheel acted appropriately when getting the faulty tachograph checked.

She continued:”There is a very dark cloud of suspicion but, significantly for the operator, there was no use of the equipment and no criminative or circumstantial evidence which would point to such use being likely. DVSA found some non-compliance by the operator’s drivers but such was not associated with any sustained deliberate non-compliance and hours offending or driving against the clock as often found in operations where devices are used.”

She concluded “I have to place a serious marker against this licence.”

On top of the 5 vehicle curtailment, Gorden Riddell was warned as to his repute. John Riddell was cleared of any involvement with the device interference but was given a warning as to his repute and was told to attend a refresher course on his profession.
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