Cambridge

‘Racist’ Facebook images spark council investigation into taxi driver

A Cambridge taxi driver is under investigation by the city council after images branded Islamophobic were posted on his Facebook account.

Mark Joyce, a hackney carriage taxi driver who operates in Cambridge city centre, had a Facebook page where offensive posts about Muslims appear to have been made seven times between 2015 and 2017.

Cambridge City Council said it was investigating the allegations to see if he is "fit and proper" to be a licensed taxi driver in the city.

Mr Joyce has denied all accusations, claiming his Facebook "was hacked" – despite a photograph apparently posted to his page in 2015 showing him holding a sign stating “I am not Muslim British and proud (sic)”.

Mr Joyce, who has worked in a self-employed capacity for popular Cambridge taxi company Panther, confirmed that he was set to appear "in front of the committee".

What was found

Screenshots seen by Cambridgeshire Live show seven images that seem to have been posted on Mr Joyces Facebook page.

The posts were described as “extremely racist and hate material towards [the] Muslim and migrant community” by the source who shared them with us.

In June 2017 an image posted by another user appears to have been shared on Mr Joyces account showing a child holding a banner that says "for World peace Islam must be destroyed".

Another image that states “Share if you want barbaric halal meat banned in Britain” seems to have been shared on Mr Joyces account in April 2016 after being posted by someone else.

A further image posted in May 2017 by another user appears to have been shared on Mr Joyces account, showing a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad – who should not be depicted in images according to the Muslim faith. Text accompanying the cartoon makes offensive remarks about the prophet Muhammad.

A fourth image features the words Happy Ramadan with a picture of a pig holding two beers. It appears to have been shared on Mr Joyces account from another page in June 2017.

Three more images appear to have been posted directly to Mr Joyces account in April 2016, January 2017 and November 2017. These all contain messages criticising the burqa worn by some Muslim women.

When approached by Cambridgeshire Live, Mr Joyce said that he was due to appear in front of a committee about the allegations.

He added: "My Facebook was hacked."

The allegations were put to the city council, which is responsible for licensing taxis, including Mr Joyces.

A Cambridge City Council spokeswoman said: "The Licensing Authority are aware of this allegation and are in the process of carrying out an investigation to determine whether this driver is fit and proper to be a licensed driver for Cambridge city."

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What does Panther Taxis have to say?

The taxi company, which employs hundreds of drivers, said it was aware of the allegations.

A spokesman for Panther Taxis said: "We are aware of material that may be in the public domain that implies that Panther Taxis LTD promote racism and employ a driver who holds extreme views.”

The company said that it completely refutes what it describes as “false” allegations of racism against Panther.

The spokesman continued: “[We] feel that this is borne out not least by the fact that, for the last 28 years, we have built up a multicultural fleet of self-employed drivers and employees that reflects the inclusivity and diversity of our city.

"We further wish to be clear that we are aware of a hackney carriage driver who we have offered self-employed services to and who is subject to allegations of racism.

"This driver and these allegations have been investigated by the police and are still subject to an ongoing process being conducted by his licensing regulators, Cambridge City Council."

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has been approached for comment.

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