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Boozing boss in dock after dodging £28 cab fare in Hampstead

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 August 2012

Hugh Wade-Jones outside Highbury Magistrates Court

Hugh Wade-Jones outside Highbury Magistrates Court

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A property broker who owns a Mayfair company with a turnover of £1.5million has been convicted of dodging a £28 cab fare in Hampstead.

A property broker who owns a Mayfair company with a turnover of £1.5million has been convicted of dodging a £28 cab fare in Hampstead.

The court heard how Hugh Wade-Jones had tried to avoid paying a cab driver after being driven home from a day of heavy drinking with colleagues on June 22.

Wade-Jones, who manages 11 people as director of Enness Private Clients, will now face a mandatory inquiry by the Financial Services Authority into whether he is “fit and proper” to manage a business which deals with clients seeking loans of £2.5million for high-value properties.

Defence solicitor Tom Nichoson said: “The real risk to his business is going to come from the FSA looking at the conviction. There is a real risk not only to him, but to the 11 people he employs.”

The court heard how the 31-year-old had enjoyed a lunch in Marylebone with colleagues from Deutsche Bank on June 21 before meandering through a string of pubs and clubs on his way to Liverpool Street.

Wade-Jones, who had withdrawn £200 from his “day-to-day slush fund” held with exclusive bank Coutts earlier that night, hailed a black cab at about midnight to make his way home to Willow Road.

The company director, who confessed to having had “a huge, huge amount to drink”, sloped off from the cab without paying after being dropped off in Hampstead High Street, Highbury Magistrates’ Court heard on Thursday last week.

Cab driver Patrick James called police after following the drunk businessman to his home in Hampstead – keeping the meter running until his passenger reached his door. By that time the fare had risen to £37.

Wade-Jones denied the charge of making off without paying and said he was convinced that he had already paid the cabbie an agreed fee when he jumped in at Liverpool Street.

Wade-Jones, who describes himself as a keen marathon runner on the company website, said: “All along my gut reaction is I am not someone who is going to run away from taxis. I can only stand by my gut feeling, but I am not going to hide the fact that I was extremely drunk.”

District Judge John Perkins said: “By his actions, as recorded by Mr James, he was at that time trying to avoid payment for a taxi, something he would never dream of doing usually. I ask myself why he was behaving in a manner that was so out of character?

“I conclude that a huge amount of drink – as often is the case – is the cause, but I don’t find that it was to such an extent that his intention at that time was dishonest.”

Wade-Jones was ordered to pay £600 in costs, to settle the outstanding £37 cab fare and was also released on a 12-month conditional discharge.

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