Linda Robson's fury after Congestion Charge bailiffs hound sick father
Linda Robson is furious over the treatment of her stepfather John Bull by Congestion Charge bailiffs
Actress Linda Robson has attacked London’s Congestion Charge chiefs after bailiffs ‘harassed’ her cancer-stricken stepfather over a fine – which he had already paid.
During the row, 78-year-old John Bull, who is married to the Birds Of A Feather star’s mother, Rita, had his car clamped and was visited by debt collectors who allegedly threatened to take his furniture.
Transport For London (TfL), the quango responsible for the Congestion Charge, and bailiff firm Equita backed down only when threatened with legal action.
Last night, Ms Robson criticised the quango for ‘harassing and upsetting’ her stepfather and accused the bailiffs of acting ‘as a law unto themselves’.
She said: ‘When the bailiffs arrived we tried to explain that my stepdad was very ill in bed and it was all a mistake.
'But we couldn’t argue with them. They wanted my mum’s furniture.
‘She had never seen bailiffs before, now she is absolutely petrified.
'People who are very elderly or ill should be given the chance to explain their circumstances before the bailiffs are sent in. It is a disgrace.’
Mr Bull, who has advanced prostate cancer and arthritis, was ordered to pay a £120 fine after he drove into Central London in August last year without paying the congestion Charge.
As the holder of a disabled badge, he would have been exempt, but he failed to register with TfL in advance.
He fought the bill, but an appeals tribunal ruled against him, and in May TfL sent bailiffs to his home in Islington, North London, where they allegedly threatened to take his furniture.
Mr Bull poses with his grandaughter Bobby
Ms Robson then settled the fine, which by then had soared to £433, with Andrew Mascot of Equita Bailiffs – but he failed to bank the money. This meant Mr Bull had his Renault Megane clamped by another bailiffs’ firm and received further threatening letters.
Ms Robson said the family was ‘at our wits end’ when local Tory activist Oriel Hutchinson, who has a history of battling TfL, offered to take their case to Clerkenwell County Court.
TfL and Equita Bailiffs then backed down, apologised and paid Mr Bull £1,000 compensation.
In a statement to the court, Mr Mascot admitted that he had ‘omitted’ to bank the money.
Ms Hutchinson said: ‘Sadly, this case is typical of so many involving TfL. I find it incredible that it uses these self-regulating, unscrupulous organisations. Mr Bull is a lovely old man. I could not believe TfL and the bailiffs treated him this way.’
TfL said: ‘The bailiff failed to follow our agreed processes so we refunded the monies and apologised.’
Equita added: ‘Our bailiff collected the monies from Mr Bull and issued a receipt.
'Unfortunately, they were not banked in accordance with our procedures. Once this came to light, Equita refunded the bailiff fees and issued an apology.’
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