A TAXI driver who was told to remove a ‘Free Palestine’ sticker by council bosses has asked why the same rules were not applied to his ‘Free Ukraine’ banner when he went for his cab’s MOT.

In December last year, cabbie Shafiq Khan said how he was told to remove a ‘Free Palestine’ sticker from his vehicle because it was deemed “offensive” after a single passenger complained.

In correspondence with Blackburn with Darwen Council, he was also told “it would not be deemed appropriate for a poster or sticker supporting any political view to be displayed in a private hire vehicle”.

It was only when the council was sent images of the ‘Free Ukraine’ sticker this week by the Lancashire Telegraph that the council confirmed the same policy would apply.

On Monday, Mr Khan took his vehicle for its taxi MOT at the council-run testing centre and he said “no mention” was made of the ‘Free Ukraine’ sticker adorning the safety screen in the back of his cab.

Mr Khan said: “I took in the vehicle in with the ‘Free Ukraine’ sticker in a prominent position facing the back seats.

“It was in the very same spot I had the ‘Free Palestine’ banner. No issue was made whatsoever, and the taxi was passed.

“I am happy putting the Ukraine banner up as the people are standing up to oppression and tyranny. But I cannot understand how such a big deal was made of the ‘Free Palestine’ banner.

“Should I be allowed to put the Free Palestine sticker back up alongside this one or anywhere else in the vehicle?”

Last year, Mr Khan was told the ‘Free Palestine’ sticker contravened private hire licensing laws and regulations and was asked to take his vehicle to inspectors for them to prove that the sticker had been removed.

Mr Khan, who started taxi driving in January 2020, said: “The ‘Free Palestine’ sticker had been up for six months and nobody had said anything.

“I do not see the sticker as political at all but more of a humanitarian issue. This is not about Muslims, Jews or Christians but about people.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council was sent a picture of the new ‘Free Ukraine’ sticker, which had been seen on at least two occasions at the council’s taxi base where inspectors had not noted its presence.

The council was asked to clarify the ruling.

Martin Eden, strategic director of environment and operations at the council said: “The licensing team investigated a complaint made by a member of the public in 2021 regarding a Free Palestine sticker in a private hire taxi.

“As per the Taxi Licensing policy, the taxi driver was asked to remove the sticker from the private hire vehicle.

“The same taxi driver is now displaying a Free Ukraine sticker within the private hire vehicle.

“The Taxi Licensing Policy clearly states that ‘unless required by statute, order, or as mentioned in paragraphs (b) and (c) of the policy, no signs, lights, advertisements or other fittings shall be displayed on or from the vehicle except a radio aerial which is to be fitted in such a manner as to satisfy the council.

“As per the policy, the driver will be asked to remove the sticker from the private hire vehicle.”

Following the new announcement Mr Khan said: “I am still concerned no issue of the sticker was made when I went for the check. It shows how the policy is confusing.

“We have seen the ‘Free Ukraine’ banners posted on the front of buses and council property. So I do hope the same rules will apply there.”