Driving test examiners took bribes to pass learner drivers

22/07/2013

Two driving test examiners who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from driving candidates and then illegally passing them at a test centre in Nuneaton, Warwickshire have today been sentenced to a total of five and a half years

Bushra Chughtai, aged 55, and Andrew Cursley, aged 46, passed learner drivers unlawfully and they both pleaded guilty to fraud at an earlier hearing. Chughtai pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and one to Fraud by abuse of position and she was sentenced to three years. Cursley pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud and one to Fraud by abuse of position and he was sentenced to 18 months.

They were part of a group of 10 defendants who were arrested and charged with fraud.

Saadat Ali, 26, from London; Mubarak Fasal, 40, from Leicester; Mohammed Ali, 50, from London; Mohammed Ditta, 48, from Manchester and Mahamad Sufi Sidat, 33, from West Yorkshire had all pleaded guilty to Fraud. 

At an earlier hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, Haviz Ghani, 41, from London, Javed Iqbal, 37, from Manchester and Mahomed Ibrahim, 52, a driving instructor from Leicester were all found guilty of fraud.

The offences were committed between January 2009 and August 2011 during which Chughtai and Cursely accepted bribes totally thousands of pounds from their fellow defendants during their practical driving test and then passed them.

The candidate's provisional licence and the pass certificate would then be sent to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency for a full licence to be issued. 

Following a police investigation and arrests of all those involved in this fraud, licences which were incorrectly issued were revoked by the Driving Standard Agency. 

Jayne Salt, Head of the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's Complex Casework Unit said:

"In order to obtain a full UK Driving Licence a candidate has to do three things; obtain a provisional licence, pass a theory test and pass a practical driving test conducted at a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) test centre.

"Bushra Chughtai and Andrew Cursely, two experienced driving test examiners, were based at the test centre in Nuneaton and were employed to test whether a candidate was a competent and safe driver However, they abused their position of trust and exploited the DSA processes in order to conduct fraudulent practical driving tests in return for cash.

"They issued pass certificates to candidates who either did not take the test or to individuals whose test was defective in some way which would have meant they had failed their test.

"Word then spread about these two corrupt officials passing drivers illegally for cash, and candidates from across the country began to migrate to Nuneaton and book their tests at the test centre where Chughtai and Cursely were both based. Ibrahim used his position as a driving instructor to act as a go-between, taking £2,200 cash to obtain a pass from Cursley for Asiya Sidat.

"During one test, Chughtai was seen giving a test to Shahida Naveed who stalled the car twice and on one occasion collided with a parked car. Chughtai saw fit to pass the candidate. On another Cursley was seen grabbing the wheel of a candidate Asiya Sidat as she swerved across the road. She was given a pass.

"By awarding pass certificates to these candidates, not only did they put the lives of these inexperienced and not qualified drivers in danger but also the lives of other road users.

"The CPS will now take steps to recover the ill-gotten gains made by Chughtai and Cursely."

Below are what the other defendants received:
 
Ibrahim - 15 months imprisonment.

Ghani - six months imprisonment.

Saadat Ali - four months imprisonment.

Fasal - four months imprisonment.

Iqbal - six months imprisonment.

Mohammed Ali - 20 weeks imprisonment.

Ditta - 20 weeks imprisonment.

Mahmad Sidat  - 10 weeks imprisonment