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Me2009

summons for fare evasion when there was no possibility of buying a ticket

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I've been summoned to court for fare evasion in a private action by First Capital Connect - i.e., not through the CPS.

 

I went to my local station (on SouthEastern) where there was a power failure; the ticket machine would not work. There is no Permit-to-Travel machine at the station (it had been removed ages ago). I went to the ticket office where the staff member said none of his machines were working either. He said I should get the ticket 'at the other end' (I have a letter from the originating station officer confirming this very phrase). I interchanged at Blackfriars where there was a three-minute interval between trains and I had to go under the platforms but not out of the barriers. At St. Pancras I asked to buy a ticket (I needed a Travelcard as I had to return the same way I had come within three hours) and asked the barrier attendant if he could sell me one. He said that he could, but refused to do so, saying he was going to issue me a penalty fare despite what I told him about the power-failure.

 

I refused, as I had not done anything wrong and had informed him of the problems at the originating station, which he did not check. After giving my details and being subject to bullying, I was allowed out of the barriers, whereupon I had to buy the same ticket I had just asked for, for my return journey (I have the ticket, time-stamped, and the credit card receipt). I am now being summoned to Magistrate's Court under Bye Law No 18(2) of the Railway Byelaws made under Section 219 of the Transport Act 2000.

 

This is a criminal charge of dishonesty and I am a doctor; if convicted, I lose my license to practise. However, I have done nothing wrong, I have been honest throughout, I have a letter from the originating station officer confirming that there was a power failure and no tickets could be sold and that I was advised to get the ticket 'at the other end', I was not given the option of buying a Travelcard at the other end, and I was not given the option of paying just the amount for the ticket in the penalty charge and contesting the rest.

 

I would appreciate some advice on this.

 

I have been told since that I should have been bought the ticket at the interchange as I was changing railway companies (from Southeastern to First Capital Connect, which I didn't realise), even though this would have meant that I would have missed my connecting train and been late for my appointment and that I was advised at the original station to the get the ticket 'at the other end'. Not being a solicitor, I didn't know this I was supposed to do this. However, I didn't realise that the public has to meet the corporations' needs rather than vice versa; I thought the rail companies were supposed to be providing a public service.

 

Further, I was treated in a disgusting fashion by the barrier attendant '*******' (who refused to give his surname, while I had to give my full name, date of birth, address, phone number etc) and by ***** ****, who represented himself as a manager but wasn't and refused to amend incorrect information on the form that he then demanded that I sign (I declined). The prosecutions manager of First Capital Connect, Martin Grier, clearly has not checked that there was a power failure at the originating station or has taken a disliking to a customer who stood up to being bullied by his staff. I'm getting rather fed up with private corporations having more rights than the public. Clearly, accountability only works in the corporations' favour.

Edited by Mr lex
Name removed

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Firstly, may I say that I really sympathise with your circumstance (I was detained with other travellers at a station with the police called up).

It is a ridiculous set of circumstances that you are in, and although I cannot state any legal standpoint, on the surface it sounds though you should have a case.

It is a sad trend of our times that companies such as these are implementing a ridiculous penalty system indiscriminately to leverage themselves financially and some of the rank and file of their staff unfairly defend this right with impunity.

 

Good luck!

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You have an absolute defence to the charge.

 

Railway Byelaw 18(3)

 

No person shall be in breach of Byelaw 18(1) or 18(2) if:

 

(i) there were no facilities in working order for the issue or validation of any ticket at the time when, and the station where, he began his journey; or

 

(ii) there was a notice at the station where he began his journey permitting journeys to be started without a valid ticket; or

(iii) an authorised person gave him permission to travel without a valid ticket.

 

25 (1) "authorised person" means:

 

(i) a person acting in the course of his duties who:

 

(a) is an employee or agent of an Operator, or

 

(b) any other person authorised by an Operator, or

Return the prosecution form indicating your intention to defend the charge. The interchange does not matter in the slightest, as the byelaw requires there to be facilities at the station where you begin the journey. Even if it did you would fall under 18(3)(i) since you were given permission by an authorised person (the originating station officer) and you have evidence of this.

 

Personally I would send a letter to the prosecuting authority pointing all of this out but prepare to defend. I would also demand a full apology from the prosecutions manager. There is not a snowballs chance in hell that a magistrate will convict you of the charge as stated.

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Just a point of clarification, this is not an offence of dishonesty.

 

Breach of Byelaw 18 is a 'strict liability' offence.

 

It is not a charge of 'fare evasion' as the OPs submission suggests.

 

If, as a result of an infrastructure failure, an employee of S.E.T gave you a note allowing you to pay at the end of your journey, that journey with S.E.T ended at Blackfriars where facilities were available to you.

 

It seems that F.C.C staff have reported you for being found to be on board one of their trains, having boarded at Blackfriars and for failing to show a ticket on demand.

 

Of course you may defend the charge, but it is important to note that you have not been charged with the criminal offence of intent to avoid a fare as you have suggested.

 

You have been charged with 'failing to show a ticket'. I'm not saying it is justified in this case, just pointing out the facts as they seem to be from the OPs message.

 

I guess the question that will have to be asked of the Magistrates is, was it reasonable to expect you to have complied with the requirements of current legislation in paying your fare 'at the first opportunity'. I understand that you say there was an F.C.C train in 3 minutes, but given that there are trains on most routes every 10 - 15 minutes from Blackfriars the question will be, was it reasonable to expect you to wait a few minutes longer and buy a ticket?

 

Time will tell on that one.

 

On a purely personal note, I would like to say that I have no connection with nor interest in F.C.C, but I do think it unwise to lay allegations against named individuals on a public forum as you have done here and I am very surprised that a doctor should have done so.

 

Just the details of the incident would have sufficed.

Edited by Old-CodJA

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"If, as a result of an infrastructure failure, an employee of S.E.T gave you a note allowing you to pay at the end of your journey, that journey with S.E.T ended at Blackfriars where facilities were available to you."

 

Firstly, the byelaw does not require a note, simply that permission was given. Secondly, he was told he could get a ticket at "the other end". I agree that this is an ambiguous phrase but is it entirely unreasonable to believe that someone would understand this to mean at the end of his journey rather that this particular leg? Thirdly, you have defined journey very narrowly. There is no support for your interpretation within the byelaws.

 

"It seems that F.C.C staff have reported you for being found to be on board one of their trains, having boarded at Blackfriars and for failing to show a ticket on demand."

 

In circumstances which under the very next paragraph of the byelaws do not constitute an offence.

 

"I guess the question that will have to be asked of the Magistrates is, was it reasonable to expect you to have complied with the requirements of current legislation in paying your fare 'at the first opportunity'."

 

You guess wrong. He has been charged under a specific provision. That provision is stated above. It is not a defence to the charge to have paid the fare at the first opportunity. He has to provide a valid defence and he can do so.

 

"unwise to lay allegations against named individuals on a public forum as you have done here"

 

Why? It is only unwise to lay allegations against an individual where they are untrue. Their only possible recourse they have would be an action in libel (where no cause exists if the poster has not lied) and they are going to find it very hard to prove damage because I'm fairly sure no one cared about their reputation prior to or after this event. This attitude contributes to the complete lack of accountability in service organisation because of this belief in a cloak of employment. You are still responsible for your actions personally when acting in the context of your employment. If you do not want your name to be used in a negative context do not create a situation where this might happen.

 

Further, this ******** may be committing an offence under the railway byelaws in his own right as

 

24(3) Identification of authorised persons

An authorised person who is exercising any power conferred on him by any of these Byelaws shall produce a form of identification when requested to do so and such identification shall state the name of his employer and shall contain a means of identifying the authorised person.

Edited by Mr lex
Name removed

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"If, as a result of an infrastructure failure, an employee of S.E.T gave you a note allowing you to pay at the end of your journey, that journey with S.E.T ended at Blackfriars where facilities were available to you."

 

Firstly, the byelaw does not require a note, simply that permission was given. Secondly, he was told he could get a ticket at "the other end". I agree that this is an ambiguous phrase but is it entirely unreasonable to believe that someone would understand this to mean at the end of his journey rather that this particular leg? Thirdly, you have defined journey very narrowly. There is no support for your interpretation within the byelaws.

 

"It seems that F.C.C staff have reported you for being found to be on board one of their trains, having boarded at Blackfriars and for failing to show a ticket on demand."

 

In circumstances which under the very next paragraph of the byelaws do not constitute an offence.

 

"I guess the question that will have to be asked of the Magistrates is, was it reasonable to expect you to have complied with the requirements of current legislation in paying your fare 'at the first opportunity'."

 

You guess wrong. He has been charged under a specific provision. That provision is stated above. It is not a defence to the charge to have paid the fare at the first opportunity. He has to provide a valid defence and he can do so.

 

"unwise to lay allegations against named individuals on a public forum as you have done here"

 

Why? It is only unwise to lay allegations against an individual where they are untrue. Their only possible recourse they have would be an action in libel (where no cause exists if the poster has not lied) and they are going to find it very hard to prove damage because I'm fairly sure no one cared about their reputation prior to or after this event. This attitude contributes to the complete lack of accountability in service organisation because of this belief in a cloak of employment. You are still responsible for your actions personally when acting in the context of your employment. If you do not want your name to be used in a negative context do not create a situation where this might happen.

 

Further, this Nicholas may be committing an offence under the railway byelaws in his own right as

 

 

24(3) Identification of authorised persons

An authorised person who is exercising any power conferred on him by any of these Byelaws shall produce a form of identification when requested to do so and such identification shall state the name of his employer and shall contain a means of identifying the authorised person.

 

I did not state that the clause relating to exemption under Byelaw 18 requires a note. It simply requires a permission to be given by a person who has the authority to do so.

 

It is the OPs own statement that he has a note and can produce it and it is for that reason that I have no doubt that he will be acquitted.

 

The specific charge under Byelaw is that of not showing a ticket. Whether or not the fare was paid later is not relevant.

 

Yes, I have played devil's advocate a little, but I do agree with your view that there is a strong defence. However, it is important to define what the charge is and not refer to this as the criminal act of intentional fare evasion, because it is not.

 

I understand your comment regarding the named individuals, however, just stating i) 'the ticket collector', ii) 'the person who falsely claimed to be the duty manager' and iii) 'the prosecution manager' would have exactly the same meaning and extend the same courtesy as the OP expects in preserving his or her anonimity by calling ourselves by a 'user name' here.

 

I do not doubt the OPs story is entirely true, but, in reading all of these posts I always bear in mind the inescapable fact that we only ever have one side of any story.

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the byelaw says:

 

18. Ticketless travel in non-compulsory ticket areas

(1) In any area not designated as a compulsory ticket area, no person shall enter

any train for the purpose of travelling on the railway unless he has with him a

valid ticket entitling him to travel.

(2) A person shall hand over his ticket for inspection and verification of validity

when asked to do so by an authorised person.

(3) No person shall be in breach of Byelaw 18(1) or 18(2) if:

(i) there were no facilities in working order for the issue or

validation of any ticket at the time when, and the station where,

he began his journey; or

(ii) there was a notice at the station where he began his journey

permitting journeys to be started without a valid ticket; or

(iii) an authorised person gave him permission to travel without a

valid ticket.

 

You began your journey at your local station (on SouthEastern) where there was a power failure and no facilities in working order for the issue or

validation of any ticket at the time. Right?

You have not Breach Byelaw 18 offence.

You will not get a conviction record as the railway would have to prove intent to avoid payment under section 5.3(a) of Regulation of railways act 1889.

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"However, it is important to define what the charge is and not refer to this as the criminal act of intentional fare evasion, because it is not."

 

Never referred to it as such.

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"You will not get a conviction record as the railway would have to prove intent to avoid payment under section 5.3(a) of Regulation of railways act 1889."

 

And first they would have to actually charge you with that.

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"You will not get a conviction record as the railway would have to prove intent to avoid payment under section 5.3(a) of Regulation of railways act 1889."

 

And first they would have to actually charge you with that.

 

EXACTLY my point. The OP refered wrongly to that offence in the first paragraph by referring to 'fare evasion'.

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Deleted.

Edited by SRPO

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I'd really like to thank everyone who has contributed to this advice to me; it's heart-warming that this is of concern to more than just me.

 

I'm sorry that my use of the term 'fare evasion' seems to have caused some problems in interpreting the byelaws; it simply shows that this is not my area of expertise. The only line of relevant text in the summons (which is to criminal court) is "failed to hand over a valid rail ticket for inspection and verification when asked to do so by an authorised person". I should also clarify that I got the exculpatory note from the Southeastern ticket agent the following morning, after I had had the interaction at St. Pancras with the First Capital Connect agents. The note states that there was a power failure, no tickets could be issued, that he advised me to get the ticket "at the other end" (quote), and I should not be issued a penalty.

 

That said, I have been informed by a solicitor that this is a charge of dishonesty, but in fact any criminal charge risks the loss of my clinical license—not to mention my clinical insurance, which is already high enough. Whether or not it is a dishonesty charge per se is beyond my knowledge—or the difference that that makes to my employment situation. Can anyone clarify the situation on this as to whether or not it is a dishonesty charge, what that means, etc. What is clear is that it is being brought as a criminal charge.

 

I have absolutely no concerns about naming people who are paid to provide a public service (or even a private one) and fail to do so; further, when they bully and harass the public, it needs to be brought to account. There seems little way in which to do this these days (if ever there were) and self-regulation by companies is risible; I know what it consists of in the NHS, which is effectively nothing. Publicly naming these people is the same principle as having surgeons rated publicly and individually for the quality of their practice, as is now being done and which I agree with. Furthermore, the charge levelled against me by First Capital Connect is publicly recorded and I have to defend it publicly; contrary to the FCC agents, I DO have a reputation to defend and this is potentially very damaging. They have extended no courtesy to me at all - contrary to their own Passenger's Charter. The more that the public shies away from this sort of calling-to-account, then the more we will get bully-boys flicking their name badges (with just their first name on it) and sneering at customers when asked for their full name. The only reason I found out **** **** last name was because he then had to put it on a form specifying the charge against me, which I read and then said "it would simply have been easier for you to tell me your full name rather than flicking your name-badge at me". He was surprised that I actually read the form—a form which it was demanded that I sign but of which I was also not allowed to have a copy.

 

That said, I would value any further discussion of this issue as it is of particular interest to me. How does one bring public providers to account without risking being sued for defamation just because you stated that you found their manner offensive or their service reprehensible?

 

As I understand it so far, from everyone's thoughtful and helpful comments:

1) there is a defence, even though it is a 'strict liability' law.

2) this defence is contained in the very same bye-law, in a subsequent paragraph

3) both employees in question may have committed an offence themselves by their behaviour of failing to provide identification when requested to do so.

 

Is there anything else that I have missed from the thread so far?

 

Many thanks.

Edited by Mr lex
Name removed

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Note to thread,

 

I have removed personal details from some posts. This is to protect me2009 and the site from possible litigation.

 

You may like to read this :-

 

When are Web Hosts Liable for Defamatory Content?

 

Lex


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Deleted.

Edited by SRPO

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Do let us know how you get on or what stage you are at as I would be interested in the outcome!

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Will do; currently it is with a solicitor; I've written to the Managing Director of First Capital Connect, copied to the Prosecutions Manager, and Southeastern Customer Service to get written confirmation that there was a power failure. Will be writing to BBC Watchdog, Transport for London, my MP, etc, in due course if no substantive replies are forthcoming. The solicitor is looking into the legal situation, which is obviously not clear for the general public as we can see from this thread. I'll keep you updated. I'm glad for your interest.

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Note to thread,

 

I have removed personal details from some posts. This is to protect me2009 and the site from possible litigation.

 

You may like to read this :-

 

When are Web Hosts Liable for Defamatory Content?

 

Lex

 

Well done. Glad to see you're is on the ball.

 

As I said earlier - I understand the comments regarding named individuals, however, just stating i) 'the ticket collector', ii) 'the person who falsely claimed to be the duty manager' and iii) 'the prosecution manager' would have exactly the same meaning and extend the same courtesy as the OP expects in preserving his or her identity by having a 'user name' here.

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As I said before, courtesy goes two ways. I received no courtesy from First Capital Connect. It is a great pity that you have failed to grasp this, repeatedly.

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As I said before, courtesy goes two ways. I received no courtesy from First Capital Connect. It is a great pity that you have failed to grasp this, repeatedly.

 

It's a saying from the times of better standards, but never seemed more appropriate to me:

 

'Two wrongs never make a right.'

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Is it actually fair to publish on a public forum peoples names you are accusing of various offences?

Not really -unless and until you get a conviction against them, that's the way the law works, like it or not.

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Quite right Timbo, this one really wound me up I'm afraid

 

The one way street of demanding fair treatment, but not prepared to give it seems all to common these days.

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I thought I'd make sure that everyone on this thread knows the outcome of the court hearing.

 

I arrived at court and spoke with the Prosecutor prior to the hearing; he asked (very politely) for my evidence, which I showed him. He said that there were only three defences to this Byelaw charge and I had evidence of two, specifically: written evidence of a failure of the machines due to a power failure from Southeastern; written evidence of the authorisation by the Southeastern trains agent to "get the ticket at the other end". On the basis of this, the Prosecutor (acting on behalf of First Capital Connect) said that he would not dispute this and, instead, he would state that FCC had no evidence against me.

 

He also said that this information should have been in his file. I said that I had written to FCC's Prosecutions Manager about this, citing the evidence that I had, but had not received the courtesy of a reply; I said that the only correspondence I had received from FCC's Prosecutions department was a demand for payment in a letter filled with threats. I had also written to the Managing Director of FCC who said "since this has proceeded to court there is nothing that I can do", even though this was a *private* criminal prosecution and there was everything that he could do, especially since I had cited the evidence that I had in my letter to him. I also told the Prosecutor that my MP, Joan Ruddock, had written on my behalf but also had not received the courtesy of a response from FCC. Finally, TravelWatch had been in phone contact with the Prosecutions Manager himself, they had stated I had this evidence, and the Prosecutions Manager had declined to change his course of action. TravelWatch then got back to me and said there was nothing more they could do since it was proceeding to court; this is as much rubbish as the Managing Director's letter, as they can lend an expert opinion but choose not to do so.

 

The case was called, I pleaded not guilty, the prosecutor for FCC did not argue, the case was dismissed; I was awarded costs. In addition, the *prosecutor* said that he himself would file a complaint against the FCC's ticket-barrier agents as he recognised that the situation should never have come this far.

 

In short, the following points may be made:

 

1. this is not a strict liability issue; there are three defences (including lack of availability to buy tickets; authorisation by a railway agent). I thank Lemingsville in particular for pointing this out.

 

2. FCC has failed in its duty of care to the public on repeated occasions, particularly the failure to explore the information (which I gave them at the very beginning) that constitutes an adequate defence; failure to regulate the behaviour of their ticket-barrier agents; failure of the Prosecutions Manager to enter into adequate correspondence to ascertain the facts; failure of their Managing Director to take responsibility to regulate their Prosecutions Managers performance (or lack of it); failure to respond to a Member of Parliament's inquiry; etc. In short, failure to do the job they are paid for.

 

In addition, I will be pursuing a formal complaint with FCC, with a request for a written apology from the ticket-barrier agents individually, as well as from the Prosecutions Manager and the Managing Director; I will write to the CEO of the Group as well. I will write to the newspapers about this (especially Metro) and BBC Watchdog, because I am fairly rare in my willingness to stand up to bullying by providers of statutory public services. This has been several months of my time wasted and a lot of stress and if I don't do something to make them take note, then they'll just continue doing the same thing to other people, with impunity.

 

In this regard, it is the greatest pity that Old-CodJA and timbo58 have failed to grasp that the public nature of a criminal prosecution means that my name can be found by anyone who wishes to trawl the public records (including online). This is not fair treatment, especially in light of the quality of the outcome. FCC has a duty to the public, which includes transparency and accountability, and they, along with old-CodJA and timbo58 are clearly of the opinion that workers' rights are far more important than workers' duties, even in statutory public services. Let me be clear: the people I cited ARE NOT PRIVATE CITIZENS in this situation, as I am, but providers of statutory public services. In such an instance, it is entirely appropriate to name people who are paid by the public to provide a service to the public and not only fail to do so, but harass and bully the public in the course of their 'service'. Even the British Government is coming to the same conclusion in having individual surgeons' quality of service reported individually and publicly; it it's good enough for surgeons, then it's certainly good enough for ticket-barrier agents.

 

That said, it is entirely sensible for this internet board to remove the stated names if there is a risk of prosecution to the board for defamation (and I understand that the law in question is still in development).

 

Finally, I had to take a First Capital Connect train on the way back home from court; due to their failure to ensure the performance of their trains, their service was 55 minutes late. They would only acknowledge publicly 25 minutes' delay, not mentioning the fact that they had made the intervening train magically disappear.

 

This sort of thing (failure and cover-up/spin) is to be expected when people are dissuaded from standing up against incompetent service. Perhaps Old-CodJA can be gladdened by the FCC's reversion to "times of better standards"—after all, there's nothing quite so heart-warming and nostalgic as a really poor service that doesn't give a damn about anything except taking your money, is there? In particular, Old-codJA seems to have used this forum to meet his own emotional needs and enforce his own values by shifting the focus in a thread originally about a problem that was not his to face; that was unhelpful, at best, and I would ask him to desist from doing so in future unless he starts a thread about a problem that he has to face himself.

 

For the other contributors to this thread who have been constructive and thoughtful in their comments, I would like to send my thanks. I hope you can appreciate how much the constructive approaches to the original problem posed—and for sticking to that issue—have been helpful to me, both practically and emotionally.

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Thank you for that, and despite your clear belief to the contrary, I am genuinely pleased that common sense prevailed.

 

To that end, I would like to refer you to a quote from my second posting on page 1 of this thread, which reads as follows:

 

"I did not state that the clause relating to exemption under Byelaw 18 requires a note. It simply requires a permission to be given by a person who has the authority to do so.

 

It is the OPs own statement that he has a note and can produce it and it is for that reason that I have no doubt that he will be acquitted."

I too subscribe to the principle of reasonableness and what I took exception to was the unnecessarily aggressive tone that your posts seemed to display throughout. Employees are people too, respect is earned on both sides.

 

Well done on sticking to your guns and on getting the only result possible in this case.

 

The prosecutor is an FCC employee too and he clearly recognised the case could not be won. What a pity he had not used more sensible judgement much earlier and withdrawn the case thus saving a wasted costs order.

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Deleted.

Edited by SRPO

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I am so glad that you got the "right" result, but am very angry on your behalf that you have been put to so much trouble and concern. I had a similar experience , although mercifully they saw sense and withdrew the summons on the first court date.

It does worry me that many people with less confidence and determination would have rolled over and pleaded guilty when they had not actually committed an offence.

I am not sure whether staff get any training on either the law or customer service, but it is wholly wrong for what I hope is the ignorant minority to behave in such a bully boy manner. The cynic in me wonders whether they don't care and that prosecutions and Penalty Notices are merely a revenue raising exercise that target the innocent and the forgetful who are easy pickings rather than those who deliberately evade fares and commit offences and anti social behaviour on our railways. I have met pleasant and professional ticket inspectors, who deal firmly and politely with those who don't have the correct ticket, and they are a credit to their firms. We know that any job in public/customer service isn't easy, but there's no conscription and those who aren't up to the job (don't know the law) or aren't suited to customer service ( rude, agressive, unable to see things from the customer perspective) should be moved on. Now. Rant Over .

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