THREE councillors have been blasted after voting to APPROVE a private hire driving licence for a Glasgow shopkeeper who locked a man in his basement, bound and battered him because he was caught stealing £200 from the till. 

Mohammed Saleem, who ran a convenience store in Pollokshields, was ultimately denied a cab driver’s licence after blaming his shocking crimes on the fact he had been fasting for Ramadan.

Five councillors voted to refuse the application at a licensing committee meeting on Thursday,  but councillors John Kane, James Coleman and Hanif Raja wanted to grant the licence for a year as he had already served his punishment.

Calum Anderson, chairman of Unite the Union Glasgow CAB section, said he was shocked anyone would consider giving Mr Saleem a private hire car driving licence.

He said: “He should not have taken the law into his own hands – you reap what you sow.

“I am aghast anyone would consider granting this man a licence.”

In January 2013 Mr Saleem was ordered to complete 135 hours unpaid work within six months, which he did.

Saleem told the licensing committee there was “no excuse for his behaviour.”

He said: “I was on Ramadan and fasting that week. He had stolen £200 from my register and was targeting other shops in the area. I knew from the CCTV who had taken the cash.

When I saw him outside I recognised him, grabbed him and took him inside the shop.
“I was angry that he had stolen from me and I wanted him to learn a lesson. It was wrong what I did and I have no excuse.”

Councillor Raja said: “Fasting is no excuse. You should be more lenient if you are fasting.”
Following Mr Saleem’s testimony councillors adjourned to discuss the application.

After the meeting Councillor John Kane said he and Councillors Raja and Coleman wanted to grant the licence for one year and issue a severe warning. 

Mr Kane said: “We felt this was one incident in this gentleman’s life. I am not saying what he did was OK. At the time the court ordered him to complete a community payback order which he did.

“Do we then punish him for the rest of his life? I don’t think he is dangerous to the public at large. 

“The purpose of the committee is to determine if he is a fit and proper person and if he posses a risk to public health and safety.

“I don’t think he would kidnap passengers and lock them in a basement.”

However, committee convener Councillor Alex Wilson disagreed. He said: “It is their decision but this is about public health and safety. Just because he presents himself well on the day doesn’t mean he should get away with it.

"You wouldn’t put your own child in his car knowing he had done something like that. This was just too serious an issue.”

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