Four taxi drivers have been slapped with fines totalling over £6,000 for unlawfully soliciting fares at Henley Regatta.

Tahir Mehmood Awan, 53, from Maidenhead, admitted to illegally offering taxi services in Henley on June 30.

Mr Awan was brought before the Oxford Magistrates’ Court on February 23, where it was revealed that he had claimed to be working a pre-booked job that fell through.

Awan, who was not licensed by the South Oxfordshire District Council, took the opportunity to transport another rider back to his hometown for cash.

At the hearing, Mr Awan explained: "I had taken the customer’s number incorrectly and couldn’t make contact with them, and as I was going back to Maidenhead I might as well earn some money."

Despite Mr Awan's reasons, his unlicensed operation was seen as a threat to public safety and a move that undermined legal taxi drivers.

The court considering his early guilty plea and personal means, fined him £310, along with a victim surcharge of £120 and costs of £1,100.

On the same day, Yassar Mahmood, 39, also from Maidenhead, faced similar charges referring back to July 1.

Despite initially disputing the claims, Mr Mahmood also pleaded guilty in court and was ordered to pay a total of £1,358.

A third defendant, Haroon Qayyum, 39, from High Wycombe, was convicted on February 23 in his absence.

The court heard how Mr Qayyum had instructed a "passenger" to pretend they had pre-booked his service, unaware that the "passenger" was a South Oxfordshire licensing officer.

Mr Qayyum was subsequently fined £660, with a victim surcharge of £264 and costs of £1,100.

Mohammed Siddeeque, 46, from Reading, also admitted to illicit operation and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and £1,126 in costs.

In court, Mr Siddeeque said: "I had a clean driving licence and held licences with TfL, and both Reading and Fareham councils and had never had problems previously."

Cllr David Rouane expressed serious concerns over the safety of residents.

The Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council stated: "We take the safety of our residents very seriously and our officers work hard to make sure unlicensed taxis are stopped from operating in our district.

"For your safety, I cannot stress the importance of pre-booking private hire vehicles.

"Pre-booking means there is a record of the journey, the driver, and the vehicle used, so in the event of any problems, the driver and vehicle can be traced."