Bus Driver Test Fiddle Gang Imprisoned

A gang of First employees took more than £200,000 in bribes to let dozens of unqualified drivers drive buses. The men worked at First's Marsh Lane depot in Tottenham. They would charge between £1,500 and £2,500 to supply bogus test certificates and paperwork. Many of those who paid could not even speak English or even understand road signs.

Investigators found the four First Group employees had handed out 2,711 bogus documents between 2001 and 2004. The ringleader was chief examiner Dennis Bodimeade, 55, who gave applicants the answers to questions they didn't understand. Recruitment manager Lesley Ramsey, 65, and driving instructor John Dinning, 58, between them helped find new recruits and would give them a basic understanding of bus driving.

Potential recruits would meet the gang at the home of mechanic and father of three Kamal Dadd, 36, also known as Muhammed Hasim, who also fed between 30 and 40 members of his own family through the corrupt system. Bodimeade, Ramsey and Hashim split the money between themselves.

The gang were rumbled in early 2008 when a number of drivers who had paid up did not get jobs, and complained to First. An independent investigator found many drivers coming through Wood Green testing centre were passing their theory test in half the expected time. After being forced to take the tests again, some were found to be incompetent.

Police investigators identified 79 drivers with "suspicious" theory test passes invigilated by Bodimeade, and found 27 of them were out driving buses. First found 21 were driving for them and revoked their licences. All 21 have since gained legitimate licences. Managing Director, Adrian Jones said recruitment and training processes at First have since been strengthened so the same cannot happen again.

Bodimeade, Dinning and Hashim all pleaded guilty on Monday 21st December 2009 to conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Bodimeade and Ramsey also admitted conspiracy to defraud First Group.

On Monday 1st February 2010 at Wood Green Crown Court, Bodimeade was jailed for two years and eight months, Ramsey for 18 months and Hashim for a year, while Dinning received a four month suspended sentence.