Three men from the Truro area have pleaded guilty over charges they were running an illegal taxi private hire company  collecting passengers from cruise ships docking at Falmouth Docks.

The trio admitted the at Truro Magistrates Court on Thursday 13 March 2014 to offences under the Fraud Act 2006, Consumer Protection from unfair trading regulations 2008 and Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1978 by operating an unlicensed private hire taxi business.

Michael Ian Inglefield of Treyew Road, Truro, was fined £1,500 plus a total of £1,223 in costs.

Gideon Watson of Polglaze Walk, St Erme, Truro, and Glyn James Mainwaring of Langarth Close, Threemilestone, Truro, were each fined £750 plus £1,148 in costs for similar offences.

In May 2013 Cornwall Council licensing compliance officers received information that an illegal taxi private hire company was collecting fee paying passengers from cruise ships docking at Falmouth Docks.

Cornwall Council licensing officers conducted an investigation in conjunction with Trading Standards and found that Inglefield was operating an unlicensed private hire taxi business from his home address in Truro.

Watson and Mainwaring were employed as his drivers. The business comprised of airport transfers and tours of Cornwall for fee paying passengers. Most of the vehicles used were unlicensed and these also included vehicles hired fraudulently from local hire companies.

Following the court hearing, Andrea Carter, investigating licensing compliance officer said: “This has been a long and protracted investigation which has resulted in the successful prosecution of these individuals.

"The majority of the law abiding taxi trade work very hard to run and maintain their businesses and the licensing service are doing their utmost to support them. In light of this successful prosecution I hope that this sends a message out to any unlicensed business that serious action will be taken against them.”

Cornwall Council cabinet member for homes and communities Geoff Brown said: “It is essential for the safety of the public and to support responsible taxi operators that we have a robust licensing system in place and I commend the actions of our team in addressing this issue.”