Bradford bakery firm Happy Bread has been found guilty of driving qualifications fraud.
Coultons Bread, which trades as Happy Bread, has been stripped of its licence to run three of its 60-strong fleet of vehicles, after some its drivers at the Bradford depot obtained qualifications fraudulently, without being properly trained.
Kevin Rooney, the Traffic Commissioner for the north east, said it was “unacceptable for a company to put profit before legal requirements”.
But Coultons Bread director Howard Hunter told British Baker: "I think they’re making an example of us to be honest, as its the first case of its kind. This is all the result of an individual whistle blower, an ex-employee who left us with grievances.
"Obviously it should never have happened in the first place, and I should have personally checked more thoroughly that all was right and in place with the licences. But the company hasn’t been fined, I haven’t been fined and we are not in a criminal position."
Following a public inquiry, Rooney said Happy Bread failed to ensure that drivers were legally able to meet a deadline to be qualified with a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
“Having effectively run out of time, the local management team took the decision to put in place arrangements, such that driver qualification cards were issued to the drivers fraudulently, without the drivers having undertaken the relevant training,” said Rooney.
Under new EU regulations, professional HGV drivers must complete a mandatory 35 hours of training before being issued with driver CPC qualification cards.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) examiners found three CPC trainers in Greater Manchester, working for another operator, ABF Grain Products Ltd, trading as Allied Bakeries, had made false statements in order to obtain CPC qualifications for the drivers employed by Coultons Bread.
One of the CPC trainers admitted that he had signed 12 certificates to say drivers had undertaken the relevant training, even though he knew they had not done so.
Investigations revealed Happy Bread was aware that the qualifications had been fraudulently obtained. The drivers also admitted to knowing that they had not completed the required training.
The company have until 8 July to reapply for the qualifications in question.
In 2012, Liverpool-based plant bakery firm Coulton’s Quayside relaunched the Happy Bread range of products.