Asian cabbie fined over racist tirade at passenger

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AN Asian taxi driver has been convicted of racially abusing a white passenger.

Abdul Ghaffar lost his temper when computer salesman Barry McIvor threatened to report him for charging too much.

He launched a tirade of foul-mouthed racist abuse at the 35-year-old. Ghaffar claimed in his defence that the former part-time taxi driver had concocted the whole story because he was jealous of his hackney cab.

During Ghaffar’s trial at Livingston Sheriff Court, Mr McIvor, 35, told how he and his wife Donna, 29, had been out in Edinburgh that night.

They went to a comedy club for a celebration of their second wedding anniversary and got the last train home to Bathgate.

They got into Ghaffar’s taxi in Bathgate town centre for the last few miles to their home in Whitburn, West Lothian,.

But outside their house, Mr McIvor said the accused switched off the meter and demanded £14 – £5 more than the normal fare.

He told the court: “I asked for his taxi number to report him and he hid his ID card.

“Then he started shouting and swearing racial abuse at me. He said ‘who the f*** do you think you are, you white b****** in your f****** big house’.

“If the gentleman had apologized I’d just have let it go, but he didn’t. If I was to abuse someone in the street for being of any race, creed or colour then I’d be expected to face the courts in regard to that.”

Mr McIvor denied that he had racially abusing the taxi driver by calling him a “black b******”.

He told the court: “If I was the one racially abusing someone, why would I report it to the police?”

Ghaffar, 43, from Livingston, West Lothian, had denied acting in a racially aggravated manner on April 2 last year.

He was charged with shouting, swearing and repeatedly uttering racial remarks towards Mr McIvor outside Mr McIvor’s home in Whitburn.

Speaking through a Punjabi interpreter, he claimed he was regularly subjected to racist remarks in the course of his work.

He revealed that he risked being stripped of his council taxi licence if he was not acquitted of the charge.

After hearing all the evidence, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch found Ghaffar guilty and fined him £500.

He said: “You used abusive phrases which in law amount to acting in a racially aggravated manner – that’s a crime in our law.

“The public are entitled to expect that taxi drivers don’t act in this way, but you’re a first offender and – given the potentially serious effect on your employment – I can deal with this matter by way of a fine.”