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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Peer 'racially abused' cabbie

Police have launched an investigation into allegations controversial peer The Marquess of Blandford racially abused an Oxford taxi driver.

Thames Valley Police arrested and bailed the peer - who is heir to the Duke of Marlborough - on suspicion of racially aggravated behaviour after a complaint was made by Davinder Singh.

Mr Singh, 46, who works for Radio Cars, alleged to police the 51-year-old, whose full name is Charles James Spencer Churchill but is also known as Jamie Blandford, racially abused him when he went to his Wootton Down Farm home in Woodstock to pick him up last month.

He said part of the comments included that he was a Hindu. Mr Singh is a Sikh, not a Hindu.

Mr Singh said he was left "paralysed" by the incident.

He said it started when he phoned Blandford to confirm where his house was located on the morning of July 19 to take him to Coventry Crown Court.

He then arrived at Blandford's home but refused to take him on the journey and called the police.

Mr Singh said: "I am going to press charges against him, definitely. I am not going to let this go away."

That day, Blandford missed a court appearance.

Mr Singh, who holds a British passport and has lived in the UK for 24 years, has made a statement to police and is waiting on the outcome of their investigation into the alleged comments before pursuing his own claim for damages.

Former heroin addict Blandford is the heir to the Duke of Marlborough, who owns Blenheim Palace estate, birthplace of Winston Churchill.

On Monday, he appeared at Oxford Crown Court and admitted three driving offences - including a "road rage" attack on a car.

In 1994, he was banned from using taxis after he admitted forgery and theft charges, including running off without paying.

He is an outpatient at London's celebrity clinic, The Priory, and has been bailed to an address in south London so he can continue to attend. He will be sentenced next month.

Thames Valley Police spokesman Toby Shergold said: "I can confirm Mr Singh contacted police making a complaint that he had been racially abused while he was picking up a customer in Wootton, near Woodstock, at around 10am on July 19.

"On July 20, a man was arrested for racially aggravated public order and bailed pending further investigations."

Blandford's solicitor Raymond Shaw said: "We have not had an opportunity to hear the details of the allegations or to answer any allegations and would not choose to do so through the press." [Link]

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