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    • Hi HB,  I have been using it - freedom pass for a long time, this is why i am worried, my memory fails me!  there is no way of checking on the freedom pass usage according my partner.  see my question on your comments: Paragraph 1 a short explanation of why you used the card on the day you were caught worry: as i said i have no excuse other than to save some money  Paragraph 2 you know you made a mistake and you regret it worry: yes i will admit that it is my fault and apologise profusely - will see other template Paragraph 3 you understand how what you did is wrong and the effect it has on TfL worry: yes will do, borrowing words from other template Paragraph 4 you have taken action - tell them what - to ensure that this doesn't happen again worry: i have an oyster PAYG which i use for my journey in to work -ranging 2-3 days a week;  so i can't say that i will buy a season ticket which is more expensive?? Paragraph 5 you ask if they would allow you to pay the outstanding fare and their administrative costs to resolve this worry: i will do that. QuestIon: will they inform my employer?     
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FCC taking me to court for SOMEONE ELSE'S failure to show validated Oyster


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Hi guys

 

This is a slightly complicated situation that's gotten out of hand. Please hear me out. :razz:

 

From my side, I topped up my registered Oyster, tapped in, then boarded a First Capital Connect train from Alexandra Palace to London Kings Cross. Ticket inspectors were on the train and I produced my validated Oyster card on demand. Now I'm being taken to court for 'failing to provide a valid ticket or validated Oyster card on demand' or some such nonsense. :|

 

Sounds suspicious, I know, but it's the truth. Here's how it happened...

 

In actual fact I was travelling with another person and that person did not have a sufficient funds on their Oyster card (an honest mistake, but that's irrelevant). When the ticket inspectors asked that person for a £20 on-the-spot fine, I offered to pay it myself - as a friendly gesture to the person who I was travelling with. Neither of us had £20 on us right there and then, but the inspector seemed like a sincere, cooperative guy. I gave my details to him, to send the bill / fine to. No bill ever came. Many months later I received a letter giving me an opportunity to provide a written statement (in which I wrote the full truth and suggested an out of court settlement). Next thing I know, *I'm* being summoned to court for an unpaid £3.40. But I'd have to lie to plead guilty, because *I* had a validated Oyster (my registered Oyster card). :???:

 

The problem I have now is that this all happened about 6 months ago. Does anyone know how I can get my Oyster records from that far back to use in court? I've called the Oyster helpline and I've been told the records only go back as far as 8 weeks. Does this mean I can't prove that I paid / tapped in? I'm afraid of looking like a liar in court, but I'm 100% innocent. :!:

 

I'd really appreciate some advice. The court date is in a matter of weeks and I have no evidence to back up my story.

 

A million "thank you"s in advance.

 

:wink:

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Please somebody help. I hope I haven't come across as rude, and I apologise sincerely if that's the case - I can assure you that I'll appreciate any advice / information, even if it's not what I wish to hear. I'm just at a loss. If I can prove that I paid / tapped, I hope I'm in the clear. As far as I'm aware, I didn't do anything illegal / immoral on that day - just tried to help a friend out. I've been through months of stress because of this, but I paid, I tapped, and I gave the inspectors my Oyster on demand. They know this. The allegations are false, based on lies. I just want a way to prove it.

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Hello there.

 

I don't think you come across as aggressive, don't worry about that. You've done the right thing by reposting and bringing your thread back to the top. I hope some of our industry guys will be along later to advise you.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Hello, sorry, I thought I had replied when I first read this.

 

I suggest that you write to the prosecutor setting out the explanation that you gave here.

 

Ask for a clear photocopy of the inspector's original notes and statement indicating the evidence that you failed to pay your fare on that journey. Ask what action has been taken in respect of your travelling companion and whether or not he has paid his fare.

 

Request a reply within 7 working days and copy your letter to the Legal Advisor at the Court to which you have been summonsed.

 

Send your letter by recorded delivery as soon as possible and let us know what you get back.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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  • 3 weeks later...

...

 

I must give sincere thanks once again to honeybee13, Old-CodJA and SRPO for your help. My court date is 1 week away!

 

I've been sent the clear photocopy of the inspector's original notes. Here's what it says:

 

Witness: [the revenue officer's name]

Signed by revenue officer: [the revenue officer's signature]

[the date]

I was on duty carrying out my revenue protection duties on Finsbury Park Station

When I encountered a person now known to me as:

[my name, address, date of birth]

Reason for questioning/Description: Produced Oyster no [my travelling companion's Oyster number] failed to validate at Alexandra Palace 0.70p balance. [description of me, including ethnicity, build, hair style, height]

Cautioned at: 1453

Caution understood: Yes

 

I said "Do you have a valid ticket or authority to travel for your rail journey at this time?"

He said "I have Oyster"

I said "Where did you commence your rail journey today?"

He said "Alexandra Palace"

I said "Where are you travelling to by rail today?"

He said "Finsbury Park, then to Kings Cross"

I said "Do you have the means now to pay for your rail journey today?"

He said "No"

I said "Was it your intention to avoid your rail fare today?"

He said "No, I thought the Oyster had enough money on it"

 

Passenger Comments [empty]

 

Interview terminated at 1454

Fair avoided £03 40 paid £NIL

Outstanding £03 40

I believe this statement to be a true account of the facts

Signed by revenue officer [the revenue officer's signature]

Signed by passenger [my signature]

 

It makes no reference to my travelling companion. It has a technically inaccurate (and very offensive) description of my appearance and a mostly fabricated dialogue exchange, with my signature at the bottom! I didn't see those things on the day. He must have filled out this form after he'd obtained my signature. All I remember confirming was my name / address / date of birth, as I'd agreed to pay my travelling companion's fine. We weren't given an opportunity to pay the fair on the day. I might have had some loose change in my pocket, but when they asked us if we had £20 on us, we said we only had bank cards - that's when I offered for them to send the bill to my home address.

 

I honestly thought the revenue inspector was being cooperative, but now I'm not so sure. Was he stitching me up, or did he have good intentions that somehow got lost in the rigid process of the fining / prosecution system? He knew that wasn't my Oyster card. He specifically said to me (after I'd signed the form) that "When they write to you, you'll have to tell them that this was your Oyster, OK?" and I agreed, thinking nothing of it.

 

I've called the Oyster helpline and they're sending me a letter to confirm that I've requested a statement for that day even though they're unable to provide it (the data has apparently since been deleted). They're also sending a letter to confirm which Oyster card is registered in my name. Further, I called my bank who are sending me a statement for May 2011, which shows a payment to First Capital Connect for £10 on that day - the amount by which I topped up my actual Oyster card before embarking on that journey. It doesn't feel like a lot in my favour but I'm not sure what else to do. Should I be thinking about how to handle this in court?

 

Please any help / advice would be very much appreciated.

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Hello again.

 

I apologise if this sounds a bit off beam, but it's the sort of thing a lay magistrate might think of. Why did you suggest they wrote to you for the money and not your friend?

 

Have you done a historical print of your Oyster? I think it's something you can do yourself but I could be wrong. It can go back 8 weeks, would that cover this incident?

 

You would hope that once you have details of the Oyster card that's yours, you can show the argument doesn't stack up.

 

I expect the others will be along later with comments for you.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I agree with Space Cadet - I would hope that your friend would step up to the plate to corroborate your story. If you can show that your Oyster card was topped up prior to the journey, I would think that goes in your favour but more knowledgeable bods may have a different view.

"Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me". Martin Niemöller

 

"A vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a half-brick in the path of the bicycle of history". - Terry Pratchett

 

If I've been helpful, please click my star. :oops:

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Where is your travel companion in all this? Are they willing to hold their hands up, or are they just going to let you face the music?

 

Thank you for your response. My companion has agreed to come to court with me, but when I originally put in my not guilty plea by post, I neglected to mention any witnesses that I'd be calling upon.

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I apologise if this sounds a bit off beam, but it's the sort of thing a lay magistrate might think of. Why did you suggest they wrote to you for the money and not your friend?

My friend is generally nervous and mistrusting of strangers and doesn't speak English as a first language. The situation was clearly having a terrifying effect and so I stepped in. I made the point to the inspector that my friend was travelling with me -purely- as a favour to me, to keep me company, and that I would have been the one paying the fare anyway had we realised the Oyster wasn't validated.

 

Have you done a historical print of your Oyster? I think it's something you can do yourself but I could be wrong. It can go back 8 weeks, would that cover this incident?

The incident was in May 2011, I didn't hear from FCC until around the time of the London riots (whenever that was), so I didn't know I'd have to defend myself in court until after the Oyster records had been deleted.

 

Thank you again!

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My friend WILL corroborate my story, but I can't show that my real Oyster card was topped up prior to the journey as the history has been deleted.

 

But you've got the bank statement showing a payment to First Capital Connect - that should help, I would have thought.

"Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me". Martin Niemöller

 

"A vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a half-brick in the path of the bicycle of history". - Terry Pratchett

 

If I've been helpful, please click my star. :oops:

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Ah, I see where you're coming from now. I missed Old-Cod's reply further up the page when I first read this, and to be honest I'm not sure what else you can do except follow his advice.

"Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me". Martin Niemöller

 

"A vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a half-brick in the path of the bicycle of history". - Terry Pratchett

 

If I've been helpful, please click my star. :oops:

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Firstly, the bank statement has no real significance. It is not a rail ticket and will not be accepted as being one.

 

When you initially wrote to FCC, why did you suggest an out of Court settlement if you did not believe that you were guilty of any offence?

 

Unless the prosecution agree that there were two people involved in this incident, you may have difficulty persuading the Court that your failure to mention a witness prior to the hearing date should be relevant. Having read through the witness statement that you have copied into your thread, this seems to suggest that you failed to show a valid ticket, did not have the means to pay your fare and did not produce a validated Oyster. This may also suggest that FCC allege you were using someone else's Oyster for your journey.

 

If you plead not guilty, as you should if your account is wholly accurate, the matter will be adjourned for a trial to take place at a later date.

 

You will need to ask the court to allow you to call your friend as a witness. Your friend will need to give evidence on oath and if English is not his first language the court can arrange for an interpreter. You and your friend need to be aware that this will mean you will both be subject to cross-examination by the prosecutor.

 

I strongly suggest that you urgently seek the advice of a Solicitor local to that Court who has experience of dealing with allegations of Rail Fare evasion. You might try an internet search for 'solicitor rail fare evasion help' but you need to act very quickly.

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But surely all that is needed is the Oyster card records for both people on that day ?. I find it hard to believe that all the data has been deleted, if so then surely it would put some doubt in the mind the court ?

 

You could ask that the Oyster data and possibly CCTV images be disclosed under disclosure rules, surely TfL or TOC's often bring prosocutions after the 8 week deletion date ?

 

Andy

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Thanks for your responses guys. I've tried the CCTV route - deleted within a month. Tried the Oyster records route - deleted within 2 months. The bank 'evidence' is not that useful.

 

When you initially wrote to FCC, why did you suggest an out of Court settlement if you did not believe that you were guilty of any offence?

Because I wanted minimum fuss. I thought they might accept the £20 fine + £3.40 and I'd be done with it. I knew I wasn't legally / technically guilty, but I agreed with my friend to pay the fine and didn't have a problem with that. They ignored my written request for an out of court settlement. When I phoned them they told me I'd have to offer hundreds to stand any chance of an out of court settlement. It was at that point I started thinking to myself "Well, hang on, I've been mislead and I haven't actually done anything wrong or committed an offence myself".

 

If you plead not guilty, as you should if your account is wholly accurate, the matter will be adjourned for a trial to take place at a later date.

My account IS wholly accurate and I've already submitted a not guilty plea by mail.

 

Your friend will need to give evidence on oath and if English is not his first language the court can arrange for an interpreter. You and your friend need to be aware that this will mean you will both be subject to cross-examination by the prosecutor.

I look forward to it! I don't want to sound silly, but I'm curious - is there some way I can request for lie detectors to be used? If the revenue inspector is honest, then there's no case. If he's not, then it's our word against his. My friend and I are both willing to take lie detector tests because we have absolutely nothing to hide. I don't suppose they're accurate enough to be able to make the verdict, but I'd like the judge to take the results from a test into consideration if possible. Forgive me if I'm being naive, I know next to nothing about the courts.

 

I strongly suggest that you urgently seek the advice of a Solicitor local to that Court who has experience of dealing with allegations of Rail Fare evasion. You might try an internet search for 'solicitor rail fare evasion help' but you need to act very quickly.

I've been trying and I'll continue to search. Originally I sought help from a solicitor and I was told I'd need to pay around a grand upfront, which I don't have spare. I just wondered why I should get myself into money troubles to defend myself against false allegations. Time is extra critical because I have an extremely demanding job and this whole situation has caused loss of sleep and ultimately slipping behind at work. But I'll continue my search in what little time I have.

 

THANK YOU again,Old-CodJA. I especially appreciate you taking the time to help me with such detailed insights. I owe you one!

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I'll be back to tell the story of what happened next. Hopefully it will be of help to other people in similar situations.

 

If the scenario is exactly as reported and your friend attends with you, speak to the prosecutor before the case is called into court and try to get a word with the 'duty solicitor' if you haven't already engaged one to represent you. If the rail company believe they have a strong case they will pursue it.

 

If all is as just your post suggests, my guess is they may well decide not to pursue the charge and it will be discontinued this morning.

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The scenario IS exactly as I reported it. Actually my friend didn't attend with me, yet the case was dismissed almost immediately by the magistrates.

 

Here's how the story goes from the point of my post in which I was desperately seeking last minute legal representation.

 

1- 5 days before the case, I went to see a solicitor, he told me that my story sounded too complicated and that I was better off avoiding court by offering an out of court settlement with no admission of guilt to FCC, thus reducing the likelihood of a criminal record. I'm not sure whether or not he believed my story, but I was utterly unimpressed with his level of professionalism and strongly disagreed with his opinion on how the matter should be dealt with. I refused to pay / sign his terms and conditions at the end of the consultation.

 

2- 3 days before the case I looked up the TfL Byelaws quoted in the charges against me and wrote a list of truthful objections to how the matter had been handled by FCC

 

3- I then scrutinised the evidence against me (the Witness Statement), which I believed had been completed after I signed it. I made a list of any inconsistencies on that form (there were many, many dubious points).

 

4- 2 days before the case I went to FCC, TfL and my bank and asked them all for any evidence they could provide to support my case. When told no, I asked for an official letter in writing acknowledging my request for the evidence and giving the reasons why I was denied.

 

5- 1 day before the case I spoke to my travelling companion (the one whose oyster card it really was). She wrote an email to FCC prosecution questioning their conduct and offering to pay the fare and/or fine. She also provided scanned in evidence and screen shots to prove that the oyster belongs to her and that she regularly tops up before travelling (bank statements, oyster statements, TfL online account). TfL were copied in, I was copied in, the court were blind copied in.

 

6- I then gathered my articles of evidence, including my own bank statements, oyster statement (proving ownership), a screenshot of my friend's email, plus alllll the evidence she'd already provided.

 

7- I received a phone call from FCC prosecutions. They seemed to be trying to trick me into incriminating myself. I chose my words carefully and stuck to my guns. They demanded further information, I ensured them that I was writing an email that they would receive shortly.

 

8- I sent off an email confronting them with the TfL Byelaws and my account of their inconsistencies with such laws. I basically ripped into their conduct from every conceivable angle, destroyed the credibility of their evidence and ultimately the RPI. I included all of my gathered evidence (well, the relevant bits), including a copy of my travelling companion's previous email.

 

9- I received a phone call shortly afterwards from the prosecutor pretty much admitting defeat. He accepted my evidence and told me that they would providing no evidence in court. He also tried to convince me not to show up - I was suspicious.

 

10- On the day of the case, I turned up at court, looking fresh and well dressed (unusual for me). Prosecution were shocked and looked visibly worried when I identified myself before the judge. They tried to prevent me from giving my evidence (I had a huge file under my arm and they obviously had quite an idea what was in it). I was allowed to explain to the judge why I had showed up - the prosecution tried to interrupt me, but the judge didn't allow it. I felt I'd only just begun to get my point across when the judge dismissed the case. The prosecution looked quite relieved.

 

11- Here I am...! :smile:

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Good for you - well done for sticking to what you believed was right and for having the balls to stand up for yourself in court.

 

It does go to show that in some cases the Train co.s are just trying it on by sending out threatening letters etc. without having a good case.

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