Tories' favourite cab tycoon blasted for attack on cyclists

Addison Lee chief forced into a hasty retreat after blaming bikes for accidents

The head of one of Britain's largest minicab companies, who has donated more than £250,000 to the Tories and attended parties as a guest of Prime Minister David Cameron, was forced into a damage-limitation exercise yesterday after provocative comments he made about cyclists prompted an outcry.

John Griffin, the chairman of Addison Lee – whose vehicles is used by at least six Whitehall departments – caused a storm when he suggested cyclists were to blame for many of the crashes in which they were injured or killed.

In an article published in Addison Lee's in-house magazine, Mr Griffin wrote: "These cyclists are throwing themselves on to some of the most congested spaces in the world. Should a motorist fail to observe a granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain, then he is guilty of failing to anticipate that this was somebody on her maiden voyage into the abyss.

"The fact is he just didn't see her and, however cautious, caring or alert he is, the influx of beginner cyclists is going to lead to an overall increase in accidents involving cyclists."

He pointed out that drivers of motor vehicles had to pass a test and pay for insurance and road tax, adding: "It is time for us to say to cyclists, 'You want to join our gang, get trained and pay up'."

A "boycott Addison Lee" campaign sprang up in response yesterday, backed by Lord Prescott and Jenny Jones, the Green Party's candidate in the London mayoral election.

Tom Bogdanovich, of the London Cycling Campaign, said cyclists were "disgusted" by the comments. "They are just ordinary people trying to get to work and school," he said, pointing out that experienced cyclists were also at great risk on the roads.

The negative reaction prompted Mr Griffin to release a statement, although he refused to apologise.

He said:"I accept that the tone of the article was perhaps a little too inflammatory. It was meant to entertain and generate debate, but the online reaction has obscured the main message that there are many inexperienced cyclists who need better training to be safe."

Mr Griffin had already come under fire this week for encouraging Addison Lee's drivers to illegally use bus lanes, saying it was unfair that black taxis could use the lanes while his minicabs could not. Labour's mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone accused Addison Lee of thinking it has "carte blanche to flout the law" because he donated £25,000 to Boris Johnson's last election campaign.

Case study: Dead cyclist was 'very professional'

The first cyclist to be killed on the capital's roads this year was not a "granny wobbling to avoid a pothole or a rain drain". Henry Warwick, 61, was a "brilliant" cycle courier with 10 years of experience, his family said.

The father of two was killed in east London after a collision involving a bus. Far from Addison Lee chairman John Griffin's image of a cyclist on their "maiden voyage into the abyss" getting into trouble, Mr Warwick would cycle dozens of miles each day, according to colleagues, and he even featured in a video about the dangers of cycling in London.

Following Mr Warwick's death in February, his brother Ed Wawrzanek said he was a "very professional cyclist and courier". "He was very much into cycling since being a teenager and considered the sport to be his lifelong hobby," he added.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence