A company director who ‘deliberately misled’ hundreds of holidaymakers at Gatwick Airport by parking their vehicles in muddy fields and public car parks has avoided jail.
Shagufta Khan pleaded guilty to misleading commercial practice after scores of cars belonging to holidaymakers were found in a farmer’s field in Ifield, West Sussex County Council has said.
The 42-year-old was the director of Best Meet and Greet Ltd which claimed to be a secure parking service for people flying out of Gatwick Airport.
However, in 2016 the county council’s Trading Standards found hundreds of vehicles belonging to customers who had used the company in a field at a farm on Bonnetts Lane.
Trading Standards Officers then carried out a test of the company, handing over a vehicle fitted with a tracker.
The council said the vehicle was later tracked and found unlocked in a car park in Crawley. They were able to recover the vehicle without being approached by anyone.
Khan pleaded guilty to misleading commercial practice earlier this week, the council said.
She was sentenced today (July 27) to eight months in prison suspended for 12 months and was also ordered to complete 50 hours unpaid community work. She was also banned from being a director for five years.
David Garrett, who left his car in the care of Best Meet and Greet, said: “I am very grateful that West Sussex County Council took this matter so seriously and saw this through over a long time.
“This was clearly a disgraceful way for a company to act with customers’ property and West Sussex Trading Standards were exemplary in the way they handled it.”
Richard Sargeant, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Deliberately misleading customers with false information is illegal.
“Our advice to protect customers is to always use a Gatwick Approved Operator when booking a ‘meet and greet’ parking service, which also ensures that you will also be dealing with a Trading Standards Approved member of the Buy With Confidence scheme.”
Debbie Kennard, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, added: “Our Trading Standards team have done an excellent job in bringing this individual to justice.
“I hope this sentence will deter others tempted to deceive customers in such a way.”
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice can contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or online via www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport