Written by Ben Quinn
First published 27 June 2019
Uber has reached out-of-court settlements with two women who alleged they were sexually assaulted by the same driver in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK against the company.
The cases were taken by two women who had ordered vehicles using Uber’s app during nights out in Leeds in December 2015, but told police they were sexually assaulted by the driver. They are both five-figure settlements.
An investigation by Leeds city council subsequently found the driver, Naveed Iqbal, had used his brother’s Uber driver login while he was away and assaulted two women on separate occasions.
Iqbal lost an appeal in 2017 to keep his own private-hire licence when a crown court heard no charges had been brought, but a judge said he had carried out the attacks “on the balance of probabilities”.
Lawyers were instructed by the women, now in their 20s and 30s, and had argued in civil proceedings that Uber was liable for the incidents as it had a duty of care to protect passengers, because its drivers were employees.
Uber contested the claims, but has now agreed to undisclosed out-of-court settlements, Irwin Mitchell announced on Thursday.
Emma Crowther, a legal expert on abuse who represented the women for the law firm, said the driver would not have been free to go on and pick up the second woman a week later if Uber had properly investigated the alleged first assault.
“Both women are still deeply affected by what happened to them,” she said.
The first woman, who was celebrating her birthday on the evening of the assault, said the driver had groped her breasts twice.
She added: “My whole life has been turned upside down since that night. When it first happened, my initial reaction was anger and disbelief, but I very quickly developed anxiety. I was aware that the driver knew where I lived and this made me anxious about being at home.
“I suffered from poor concentration, a lack of enjoyment and poor motivation, and I had this feeling of being dirty all the time.
“Everything that has happened has also had a huge impact on my career, as I no longer have the confidence to work in a customer-facing role.”
The second woman, who had booked with Uber on 13 December 2015 following a night out with friends, said: “That one night has had such a negative impact on my life, and to hear it had happened to another woman a week earlier was horrible.
“This could have been prevented. I just hope we can now move on with our lives as best we can.”
Uber has been contacted for comment.
During a hearing about his private-hire licence, Iqbal reportedly denied using his brother’s Uber login and sexually assaulting the two women. He was reported to have blamed a “technical fault” on the phone or the Uber app.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said that the force received two separate reports of women having been sexually assaulted by a taxi driver in Leeds on December 6 and December 13, 2015.
“Investigations were conducted into both reports and a man was interviewed after voluntarily attending.”
“There were evidential difficulties, some in relation to the identity of the suspect, and both cases had to be finalised on that basis.”
Sourced from the guardian.com