Passengers Instruct Irwin Mitchell Following Incidents Which Happened In Leeds
Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have secured settlements for two passengers who reported being sexually assaulted by the same Uber taxi driver - in the first known cases of their kind in the UK against the taxi firm.
The women had been on nights out in Leeds and had ordered a cab using the Uber app. They subsequently told police they had been sexually assaulted by the driver who had touched their breasts.
A subsequent investigation by licensing authority Leeds City Council found that Naveed Iqbal had used his brother’s login while he was away and had picked up the women on 6 December and 13 December, 2015.
Naveed Iqbal, who shared a vehicle with his brother, lost an appeal to keep his taxi licence at the city’s crown court. The hearing in November 2017 was told no criminal charges were brought against Naveed Iqbal. However, Judge Simon Batiste said it was Naveed Iqbal who carried out the attacks “on the balance of probabilities”.
Following the incidents the women, now in their 20s and 30s, instructed expert abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate. The women’s legal team argued that Uber was liable for the incidents as it had a duty of care to protect passengers as its drivers were employees.
Uber contested the claims, however, has now agreed undisclosed out of court settlements.
Expert Opinion“These are deeply upsetting cases of two young women who reported being sexually assaulted by someone entrusted to get them home safely.
“It is even more concerning that if Uber had properly investigated the alleged assault suffered by our first client then we believe 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.
“Both women are still deeply affected by what happened to them. While nothing can ever make up for what has happened we are pleased to have secured these settlements which we believe to be the first of their kind in the UK against Uber. We now hope that the specialist support the women require will help them try and move forward with their lives.” Emma Crowther - Senior Associate Solicitor
The first woman, who was celebrating her birthday on the evening of the assault, ordered a taxi to take her home. During the journey she said that the driver groped her breasts twice.
She said: “My whole life has been turned upside down since that night. When it first happened, my initial reaction was anger and disbelief, but I very quickly developed anxiety. I was aware that the driver knew where I lived and this made me anxious about being at home.
“I suffered from poor concentration, a lack of enjoyment and poor motivation, and I had this feeling of being dirty all the time.
“Everything that has happened has also had a huge impact on my career as I no longer have the confidence to work in a customer facing role.
“I just hope that by speaking out others who may have found themselves in a similar situation don’t feel that they have to suffer in silence.”
The second woman, now in her 20s, booked an Uber on 13 December 2015 following a night out with friends. During the journey she told how the driver began rubbing her leg and touching her breasts, before trying to kiss her and tried to force her to engage in a sex act.
She added said: “I now find it difficult to trust others and this has hugely affected my friendships and relationships. I have had a lot of personal issues since the assault.
“That one night has had such a negative impact on my life, and to hear it had happened to another woman a week earlier was horrible. This could have been prevented. I just hope we can now move on with our lives as best we can.”
Sue Pearce MBE, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN) added: “It is always distressing and worrying to hear about sexual assaults and especially those committed by someone who works in a position of trust. The trauma of such assaults can have long lasting effects.
“RCTN and other rape crisis centres are here to support these victims. Our helpline number is 0800 035 2794.”