The “white van man” fraud case laid bare

Both the DVLA and local councils are committing criminal acts with clean air zones

No 20 Minute Prison Zones

As part of my ongoing push back against the abuse of power by Newcastle City Council, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, I have prepared the following statement that lays out two criminal frauds. The first is how every vehicle that can be used for commercial goods is treated as if it necessarily must be, in violation of case law and equity principles. The second fraud is how councils divert anyone trying to get justice away from courts of law into rigged tribunals.

This will be going to the parties involved tomorrow. Any feedback before then is welcome! There is a much bigger fraud going on, which is the coercive way in which private entities like DVLA operate in order to strip us of our property and travel rights. That’s a topic I have been researching and preparing to write about, and it ties into a broader assault on our freedom of movement. The ecofascist agenda will doubtless intensify until it breaks, as the enabling state surveillance infrastructure offers irresistible levels of control to psychopaths.

My very modest white Ford Escort van, which I can just about afford to keep on the road, is integral to my work and quality of life. I took it for granted growing up that I could freely move around my own country, and drive in cities and national parks. The Covid lockdowns showed us how those freedoms can disappear in days. I have no idea if my determination to keep my private conveyance free from these thieves will succeed, but at a minimum if gives them pause for thought, and inspiration to others to remove their consent from the abusers.

DVLA and Local Authority criminal fraud
abetted by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal
by knowing miscategorisation of N1 vehicles
and knowing misdirection of appellants seeking lawful justice
for financial gain and causing loss to the travelling public

1.     DVLA is an executive agency that administers the licensing of drivers and vehicles with statutory authority under The Road Traffic Act 1988, The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, The Road Traffic (Driver Licensing and Information Systems) Act 1989, and The Road Safety Act 2006.

2.     DVLA participates in the enforcement of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) and Low Emission Zones (LEZs) established through the authority of the Transport Act 2000, and enforced through The Road User Charging Schemes (Penalty Charges, Adjudication and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013.

3.     DVLA uses data collected through the vehicle registration process, as shown on a V5C, and turns this into a “CAZ vehicle type”. This information (V5C plus CAZ vehicle type) is used by local authorities (LAs) to enforce varying restrictive environmental policies for travel (e.g. which differ in London, Newcastle, Bath, Durham, and Glasgow).

4.     The V5C data includes multiple fields, including vehicle category (e.g. N1), make (e.g. Ford), model (e.g. Escort 55D), body type (e.g. car derived van), taxation class (e.g. light goods vehicle), type approval number (e.g. J108T), as well as technical characteristics like fuel type, weight, axles, cylinder capacity, and colour.

5.     The taxation class of “light goods vehicle” was previously “private light goods” prior to c. 2001, which legally implies permission is required for any loss of private property right.

6.     This multiplicity of data types affords an opportunity for confusion, and even criminal fraud, by misrepresenting vehicles in operation for financial gain. The central matter is that data obtained in one context (road tax to enable exercise of a property right) is knowingly misused in a completely different context (usage restriction limiting a travel right) to the gain of one party (a local authority) and loss of another (the travelling public).

7.     Local authorities (LAs) charge for and/or prohibit certain vehicles in regulated zones, with additional penalty charges for unpaid levies. These levies are typically applied to vehicles deemed “commercial” (e.g. in London) without regard to their actual use, as well as non-commercial traffic in some instances (e.g. London’s ULEZ, Glasgow), with exemptions or private cars in some circumstances (e.g. Newcastle).

8.     These revenues are attributed to the local authority itself. As such, there is a financial incentive to draw the net for enforcement as wide as possible, without taking into consideration the equitable treatment of the public, or competing civil rights to the goal of cleaner air, including other health and safeguarding needs. There is no primary legislation for air pollution zones that defines how any contention between liberties is to be resolved.

9.     The actual data about actually vehicle usage, most importantly the insurance classification of the vehicle, is not held by DVLA, if it exists anywhere in digital form. There is at present no central means to access such information.

10.  Penalties are being issued to members of the public, who are essentially fined for the style of their private vehicle, as detailed below. If DVLA said your car was an HGV, and wanted thousands of pounds in road tax, we would vigorously object, as that is a fraudulent misrepresentation. This case is no different in substance; it is an untruth being propagated for commercial gain, albeit more subtle in form.

11.  DVLA’s vehicle categorisation is based on its legacy business of road taxation, and most vehicles are either class M (“Passenger transport”), or class N (“Goods transport”). These relate to the objective properties of the vehicle, and any burden It likely places on the highway system as a result of use, charging (for instance) a 52-seat coach more than a 2-seat sports car.

12.  The payment of the road tax allows the full exercise of the property right of the vehicle on the UK’s highways (subject to an MOT, insurance, etc.). The vehicle type categorisation places no restriction on the usage rights of the vehicle. You can use an ordinary saloon car in commerce or for a cargo of goods; conversely, if you really wanted to and were insured for such use, you could undertake a private social trip in a heavy goods vehicle.

13.  Some vehicles are ordinary and usual conveyances for private use, and all M1 category vehicles would be regarded as such, with some M2 vehicles (e.g. conversion vans) would also qualify. It has long been recognised in law that there are inviolable travel rights attached to an ordinary and usual private conveyance, which includes non-discrimination.

14.  Newcastle City Council (NCC) is claiming the authority, right, and duty to charge for a “car derived van” with type N1 for its Clean Air Zone, even when used purely for social, domestic, and pleasure use, and not insured for commercial use. This creates a differential treatment to an otherwise identical conveyance that has a saloon, hatchback, or estate body being used privately, which is not charged.

15.  In PCN NA00039-2312, as adjudicated by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, it was judged that an N1 vehicle must be charged, as the regulations are based solely on the DVLA vehicle type. This makes the vehicle type (in this case, N1) the sole determining factor, without regard to the facts of usage, or any other data field that the DVLA captures or infers.

16.  This is a conversion tort, turning a property right into a usage restriction. It is also a forfeit without crime or conviction, as it burdens those inalienable rights to private property and private travel, in contravention to the Bill of Rights 1689. As such, it is clearly a loss being imposed upon the public, and is done so through a knowing misrepresentation of property data (e.g. light goods vehicle) as use data (e.g. commercial cargo transporter).

17.  In PCNs NA1043802A and NA10375892, NCC make the case that the vehicle is chargeable based on the DVLA’s categorisation of the same vehicle as a “van” for clean air purposes. There cannot be two different bases for the charge — “N1” vehicle type, and “van” CAZ vehicle type. The inconsistency calls into question the objectivity of the charging scheme. Is this an administrative wrinkle, or something more serious?

18.  Transport for London (TfL) are unequivocal that they charge all “commercial” vehicles for the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) fee, claiming the authority to regulate based on DVLA property registration classification alone. Once again, we see data taken for one liberty-enhancing purpose (pay road tax to enjoy an unfettered right to travel) being used in the opposite circumstance (property encumbrance and loss of travel rights) without regard to the veracity of the data being used.

19.  In United Biscuits vs Customs and Excise (1991) it was ruled that the relevant factors in classifying for tax purposes where matters of substance and not form, specifically what the product was made from, used for, and became; not how it was marketed, packaged, or the opinion of third parties. Hence Jaffa Cakes are cakes (and exempt from VAT as essential items), and not biscuits (a luxury good).

20.  On this basis, the body style of an N1 vehicle, when it is the only thing that differentiates it from an identical M1 vehicle, is purely a matter of form, and not substance. There is no lawful authority for the regulation of the body style of vehicles in the name of clean air. Therefore, the implied claim is that vans of all styles are commercial in nature, as TfL make explicit.

21.  In Payne & Ors v HMRC [2020] EWCA Civ 889, a case involved Coca-Cola and HMRC, a dispute centred on the tax classification of certain vehicles provided by Coca-Cola to its employees. Specifically, the dispute was over whether three commercial vehicles (two Volkswagen Kombi vehicles and one Vauxhall Vivaro) should be classified as cars or vans for tax purposes. The Court of Appeal ruled against Coca-Cola, finding that the vehicles should be classified as cars for tax purposes.

22.  This decision had significant tax implications for Coca-Cola, as the classification of these vehicles as cars rather than vans meant higher tax liabilities due to different tax treatments for cars and vans in the UK. In this context, the tax burden falls the other way, onto cars, but the point is that tax classification is more than simply a mapping of the DVLA registration type class.

23.  The Court of Appeal ruled that the primary suitability to a conveyance of goods was not sufficient to make these vehicles into a van. Multi-purpose vehicles may have no primary suitability at all. On this basis, it is clear that for several years there has been a nuanced treatment of vehicles as cars or vans for tax purposes in case law, with a dividing line that depends on context and use. A “car derived van” is multi-purpose, evidenced by actual usage, as well as industry articles urging you to buy one as such.

24.  That competing claims to charge for a CAZ/LEZ in different locations are based on vehicle type, body style, tax class, and derived CAZ class, none of which align to actual use or insurance details. This disparity of justifications, that are not objectively related to emissions, should be a red flag and raise concerns of lawfulness. The absence of any consideration of the impact of miscategorisation on the travel rights of the public, with consequent potential for harm, shows an intent that does not serve the public interest.

25.  It is one thing for a multinational like Coca-Cola to contest tax classification in higher civil courts, quite another for ordinary members of the public. Where is the dividing line between an ordinary civil dispute over a misplaced administrative policy (such as with Jaffa Cakes or Vauxhall Vivaros), and a criminal fraud that deprives the public of their money and property, based on a knowing falsehood? The claim here is that DVLA and the LAs have deliberately crossed that “red line”, enabled by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal as cover.

26.  The loss of equitable passage over the public highway is an incalculable harm, beyond price. In Ex Parte Lewis, (1888) 21 Q.B.D. 191 Wills J. said, at p. 197: “The only ‘dedication’ in the legal sense that we are aware of is that of a public right of passage, of which the legal description is a ‘right for all Her Majesty’s subjects at all seasons of the year freely and at their will to pass and repass without let or hindrance.’” Modern sentiment reflects the inalienable nature of the right to travel without discrimination.

27.  The Fraud Act 2006 s2 defines the offence of fraud by misrepresentation, whereby a person is in breach by dishonestly making a false representation, to make a gain for himself or another, or to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss. Said representation is false if it is untrue or misleading, and the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading. This is the situation with the application of DVLA data to clean air and low emissions zones.

28.  DVLA and the LAs are making a sweeping claim that any vehicle with a van body style, that of itself causes harm to nobody, is necessarily commercial in operation, causing it to become subject to stiff charges that impact ordinary use. This is a knowing misrepresentation, to the commercial gain of local authorities, and the financial and freedom loss of the public, and therefore constitutes a criminal fraud.

29.  This fraud is an abuse of the Transport Act 2000’s (indirect) authority for clean air zones. It is tantamount to highway robbery, automated by computers. It is self-evident that many people use small vans as their primary personal transport, demonstrated by an enthusiast movement for “van life”. This fraud is especially egregious in the case of car derived vans, where every moving part is identical to other cars that are given a free pass with respect to CAZ or LEZ charges.

30.  The public have a right to choose an ordinary and usual conveyance that meets their personal needs. This includes the use of an N1 vehicle (e.g. Ford Escort van) for personal social, domestic, and pleasure use. This is evidenced by the ease of obtaining insurance on this base, and the equal footing of road tax. Without any difference of substance, only style, the false classification of all vans as commercial is wilful misrepresentation, given the sophistication of the parties involved.

31.  There is no lawful obligation to arrange one’s property or travel for the administrative convenience of clean air zones. It is perfectly acceptable to use a car derived van for passenger transport and personal cargo. This inequitable treatment rides roughshod over individual property and travel rights, and grossly infringes other protected rights, such as access to healthcare or the freedom to protest. Such recklessness to the rule of law indicates mens rea; the motive is money, not health.

32.  The data collected by DVLA is being misused in contravention of the Data Protection Act 2018. While the DVLA is acting as joint controller and data processor, the traveller here is the ultimate controller, having the first and last word. It is worth nothing that DVLA has committed an unlawful conversion of name, which on the issued license is no longer reflective of the primary identification and registration of the birth certificate. The driving license field labelled “name” is a surname, and the “first name” is a title concatenated to the first names, which are all in capitals, unlike the registered name. This establishes a baseline of intent to mislead.

33.  In our context, the specific part of the Act contravened in this situation is Article 5(1)(d) which pertains to the accuracy of personal data; “CAZ vehicle type” as “van” on relates to a matter of form, not substance, so is inaccurate in the context. Additionally, there is a failure to process data lawfully, fairly, and transparently, in breach the principles set out under Article 5(1)(a), as data collected for one purpose is being used opaquely for another.

34.  The DVLA is also using inaccurate data for enforcement purposes. This raises concerns under Article 5(1)(c), which requires that personal data be “adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed.” The use of multiple competing attributes, collected for one use, to facilitate an unrelated revenue stream, with distinct semantics, on a punitive basis, is clearly wrong.

35.  Whether a specific vehicle is “compliant” (e.g. Euro3 vs Euro6) is irrelevant to whether there is fraud in this context. Clean air zones are innately related to the actual pollution of usage, not the property right or the body style, nor the imputed cargo of passengers or transport. The misrepresentation is the creation of a false classification of “CAZ vehicle type” for gain.

36.  The fraud is compounded by how LAs use the Traffic Penalty Tribunal to misdirect any affected member of the public into a private administrative tribunal that does not uphold the rule of law, and treats any classification by DVLA as if written on a tablet of stone handed down from our Creator. Those affected by the fraud are left with only judicial review as remedy, a hurdle very few can afford to overcome.

37.  As such, LAs are not only enriching themselves inequitably, through “data laundering” blame to the DVLA who facilitate the fraud, but are also actively denying the public access to lawful remedy. This compounds the wrongdoing.

38.  Every single aspect of this matter points to unlawful intent by the parties involved, namely NCC and the TPT: the conversion tort involved, the lack of respect for constitutional due process, the inversion of case law, the violation of statute on data protection, the obliteration of equity, the denial of international treaty obligations, and fraudulent abuse of administrative policy.

39.  The underlying fraud, involving the DVLA miscategorising vehicles for gain, is a matter of public importance and interest, as many are affected. Yet it is the wilful misdirection by LAs that constitutes a serious omission in criminal law. Any member of the public that identifies criminal behaviour is diverted to an alternative dispute resolution tribunal, rather than a court of law. This venue by design will not uphold the law, nor address grievances with the DVLA, defective legislation, or forfeits without due process.

40.  Specifically, by knowingly omitting that the Traffic Penalty Tribunal would not address matters beyond pure administrative process, Newcastle City Council committed fraud under s3 of the Fraud Act 2006, as this is an omission that there was a legal duty to disclose. The duty arises from the principles of natural justice, which include the right to a fair hearing and the right to be heard by a competent authority, as well as a duty of care that public bodies owe to individuals in providing accurate and comprehensive information about their legal rights and the processes available to them.

41.  That the said fraud appears to have been endorsed by Parliament, even if tacitly, calls into question the true intent of these environmental schemes. The absence of primary legislation that addresses civil liberties, and enforcement via a compromised tribunal lacking due process and fairness, is indicative that lawfulness was not Parliament’s top priority.