CONCERNS were raised over an Uber driver’s ability to speak English as licensing chiefs banned him for pirating.

Asim Latif denied plying for trade, where private hire car drivers pick someone up off the street who hasn’t pre-booked a lift, when he appeared before Glasgow City Council’s licensing committee.

But councillors decided to suspend his licence for the unexpired portion of its duration, following worries over his conduct and level of English.

READ MORE: Cab drivers face tests on English and capability behind the wheel

The decision comes weeks after the committee decided taxi and private hire drivers in the city will be tested on their English skills before they can take passengers.

A council officer said Mr Latif had been parked on Hope Street when four people approached him. Two of the group then got into a black hackney taxi while two spoke to council enforcement officers.

They said Mr Latif had asked where they were going and how much they would pay. He was offered £12 to take them to the East End but refused, saying he would do it for £25, the officer said.

Picking up passengers who haven’t booked, while working as a private hire car driver, invalidates the driver’s insurance.

Mr Latif’s brother asked to address the committee on his behalf as his English is “not fluent”.

He said Mr Latif would not take a job without a prior booking as he works for Uber. “He refused to talk to them,” he added. “I don’t know why they gave that account.”

“I have real problems with this,” said licensing convener Alex Wilson, who asked to speak directly to Mr Latif.

He asked if the driver could take him from the city chambers to Hope Street, adding: “He has to be able to understand me.”

When Mr Latif couldn’t answer, the convener said: “Okay, I think that’s sufficient enough for me.”

His brother argued that he used the map on his Uber system to ensure passengers reached their destination. He also said he would phone an ambulance in a medical emergency.

Councillor Aileen McKenzie asked what would happen if the Uber system wasn’t working. Mr Latif’s brother said he would use Google Maps.

READ MORE: Private hire driver blocks Edinburgh Taxi outing after getting soaked 

It is hoped introducing the SQA qualification to test English will improve customer service levels and satisfaction and public safety.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of passenger complaints rose from 430 to 1038. Mr Latif’s licence, which had been due to run until August 2021, was suspended immediately.

Four other private hire drivers were suspended for six weeks after plying for trade.