Bus driver who left passengers on board to go get a coffee is fired

London bus driver who left passengers on board with the engine running to go and get a coffee and jumped a red light as he read a letter is fired

  • Ian Brown sacked over driving standards on March 13, 2020, tribunal concludes
  • His claim of unfair dismissal by Arriva London North failed, judgment shows

A London bus driver was fired after leaving his double decker with passengers on board and the engine running while he went to get himself a hot drink and use the toilet. 

CCTV showed Ian Brown was also reading a letter inviting him to a disciplinary hearing while the bus was moving, before he jumped a red traffic light, an employment tribunal heard. 

The footage and the employee’s attendance records were reviewed at a misconduct hearing and Mr Brown was sacked on August 11, 2020.

His claim of unfair dismissal by Arriva London North also failed, the tribunal held on February 22 and 23, 2023, revealed. 

The judgement report following the tribunal heard by Judge Tuck KC was posted online this month. ‘On 13 March 2020 the claimant was driving a double decker bus on route 243,’ it said.

Mr Brown’s claim of unfair dismissal by Arriva London North failed (stock image)

‘Ms Bishop’s statement says he arrived late to take over the bus – at around 14.17 hrs, then left it unsecured at a bus stand, with the engine running and passengers on board, while he went to the café to use the toilet and collect a hot drink, not leaving the stand until 14.21hrs. 

‘I understand this was agreed by the claimant who also confirmed his work was due to commence at 14.14hrs. 

‘CCTV from a camera in the bus cab from 14.22 to 14.23 shows the claimant opening a sealed envelope while the bus appears to be stationary, then with the bus in motion, shows the claimant taking pages which had been in the envelope, opening them from folded to A4 size, and flicking through the pages. 

‘The CCTV shows that the claimant left his indicator flashing when it should have been turned off as he was opening out the folded papers, and a second CCTV view of the same minute (some 10 seconds later) shows that the claimant was breaking as he approached a traffic light, shows the light turning from amber to red at least 3 seconds before the claimant reached the stop line, and the claimant proceeding across the junction. 

‘It is not in dispute that the letter which was in the claimant’s hand and shown during this CCTV footage was the letter dated 12 March inviting him to a disciplinary hearing.’

The judgement added a controller’s claim that when he contacted Mr Brown to ask why the bus was late, he was told ‘it is against my contract. I’m not driving this bus for the rest of the day’.

The controller said a refusal to continue to drive would be a ‘self suspension’ and was reportedly told by Mr Brown: ‘I’m not suspending myself, you are bullying me and I’m not fit to drive. You can collect the bus from Seven Sisters’. 

Mr Brown did then leave the bus at the Seven Sisters station and it was later collected by someone else, the judgement said. 

Mr Brown claimed to his boss  he was being bullied, saying: ‘Controllers’ constant bullying and harassment while on duty goes unnoticed. Are you saying I have no rights to a toilet break or to be paid while off sick…. This is not a self suspension but stress under duress.’

The tribunal concluded Mr Brown was sacked due to his driving standards on March 13, 2020. 

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