Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds taxi attacks: Uber settles women's sex assault cases

Uber app Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The women were attacked after being picked up in an Uber driven by Naveed Iqbal

Taxi-hailing app Uber has agreed out-of-court settlements with two women who were sexually assaulted by one of the firm's drivers.

The victims, who did not know each other, were picked up by Naveed Iqbal on different evenings in Leeds in December 2015.

Both said he assaulted them in the front seat of the vehicle.

Lawyers Irwin Mitchell said it was the "first known case of the kind in the UK" against Uber.

Uber said it had "investigated thoroughly".

'Life turned upside down'

Leeds City Council started an investigation into claims Mr Iqbal used his brother's Uber driver login while he was away and assaulted the women.

It found the account did belong to the brother, but he was in Pakistan at the time.

A judge said [Naveed Iqbal] carried out the attacks "on the balance of probabilities", Leeds Crown Court heard in November 2017.

No criminal charges were brought but he lost his private hire licence and was told to pay £1,500 in fees.

Irwin Mitchell said Uber had agreed "undisclosed settlements".

The first victim said her "whole life has been turned upside down since that night", while the second said: "That one night has had such a negative impact on my life and to hear that it happened to another woman a week earlier was horrible."

Lawyer Emma Crowther, who acted for the women, said: "If Uber had properly investigated the alleged assault suffered by our first client then we believe that the driver would not have been free to go on and pick up the second woman just a week later, during which it is reported he escalated in his abusive behaviour."

An Uber spokeswoman said: "There is no place for this kind of behaviour in the Uber community. We take all reports very seriously and investigate thoroughly.

"We typically waitlist drivers during investigations and if the allegations prove true, an individual would likely face permanent deactivation."

Leeds City Council said: "The individual [driver] in question was suspended immediately and not allowed to drive a private hire vehicle as soon as we were informed.

"Subsequently, following an investigation, we took the decision to revoke his licence in June 2016, which was consequently supported by a judge at an appeal hearing in July 2017."

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