Portsmouth driving instructor struck off after 'threatening' and 'inappropriate' posts targeting Red Driving School
A DRIVING instructor ‘intent in bringing the industry into disrepute’ has been struck off over ‘threatening’ and ‘inappropriate’ posts on social media.
Milton-based Robert Hood, 54, targeted Red Driving School after losing his franchise with the nationwide company, a judge’s ruling has revealed.
Mr Hood had asked Red for help when a student failed their driving test in January last year.
Red investigated and later terminated his franchise as it said he was ‘verbally abusive’, had been intimidating other drivers, and was trying to recruit them to his own firm – Gas & Go Driving Academy – while a franchisee, the ruling said.
He took Red, led by chief executive Ian McIntosh, to court and won damages alleging ‘multiple acts of personal data theft’.
But Mr Hood also launched a social media tirade against Red and its leadership.
Among the posts on Facebook, Mr Hood said Mr McIntosh was a ‘liar, thief bully, low life and a scumbag’.
Writing in capitals, the judge said he added: ‘No amount of money can stop me. I am coming for you.. You attacked my family and abused your (position) and one way or another am going to have you. Tick tock.’
Another post on social media showed an altered image of the chief executive and added: ‘Have you seen this man watch you back and your pockets if it’s not screwed down he will have it away.’
The ADI Registrar found Mr Hood was ‘not a fit and proper person’ to be on the approved driving instructor register. He was removed and cannot charge for lessons.
Details of the case have emerged in a judge’s ruling after Mr Hood lost an appeal.
The judgment reveals the registrar said: ‘I find the appellant’s behaviour highly inappropriate following his franchise termination from Red.
‘Rather than pursue his claim through the courts he has posted threats against Red, its CEO and a Red trainer on social media.
‘The appellant is a newly (qualified) ADI and appears intent in bringing the industry and the register into disrepute by posting offensive accusations and publicly insulting fellow ADIs and the DVSA on various social media platforms.
‘I find the catalogue of messages sent wholly inappropriate and totally unprofessional.’
It added: ‘It would be offensive to other ADIs and persons trying to qualify as ADIs, who had been scrupulous in their professional conduct, for me to ignore the inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.’
The decision, based on complaints made about the instructor, was appealed by Mr Hood.
In his ruling, first-tier tribunal judge Jeremy Rintoul said Mr Hood was ‘entitled to make comments, publicly, about litigation which is ongoing’.
He added: ‘But we consider that these comments go well beyond what is fair comment and descend into outright abuse which is unprofessional and unjustified.
‘Whether or not these comments are defamatory is not the point; these are threats and abuse against individuals; no respect is shown and they are clearly written in such a way as to attract the attention of a section of the public.’
Mr Hood was ‘awarded damages’ in the county court case, the judgment adds.
Mr Hood had argued the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency did not investigate the complaints, and that the posts on social media were ‘true’.
He told The News he will lodge an appeal against the latest ruling, dated last month.
A Red Driving School statement said: ‘Red Driving School can confirm it did terminate the franchise agreement in question in February 2020 due to breach of contract, a decision which was later upheld in court, and acknowledges the DVSA’s independent decision in May 2020 to remove Mr Hood from the Register of Approved Driving Instructors.
‘The DVSA’s decision has now been upheld by the GRC at appeal meaning that Mr Hood longer has an ADI licence to teach for reward due to him being deemed not to be a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.
‘Red Driving School has and will continue to uphold the highest standard of UK driver training and conduct.’