Veteran biker wrongly refused motorcycle licence for three years

A veteran motorcyclist has been granted £1,000 compensation after the DVLA wrongly refused to grant him a motorcycle licence for three years.

Paul Olsen. - Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman

A motorcyclist was denied a licence for over three years in the UK, thanks to a mistake by the DVLA.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) reports that Paul Olsen was wrongly denied a motorcycle licence for more than three years. 

Mr. Olsen has been a motorcyclist for over half-a-century, but was told he did not have the right type of licence when trying to insure a new motorcycle in 2018.

Mr. Olsen said to the PHSO: “I had the surprise of my life when they said I didn’t have the right biking entitlement on my licence.

“I got a British driving licence and motorbike licence when I moved here from San Francisco in 1969. In the early 1970’s, I was re-issued a lifetime licence. But somewhere along the way, the DVLA must have dropped the ball.

“This was before everything became digitised, so I didn’t know that my entitlement was no longer on the licence.”

Paul went to the Independent Complaints Assessor (ICA) after an unsuccessful complaint to the DVLA. The ICA said the outcome of Paul’s case with the DVLA was “perverse and unfair,” the PHSO says, and found that although he likely held the right licence it could not ask the DVLA to give Paul a new entitlement on his licence because the DVLA had followed procedure.

Mr. Olsen then went to the PHSO, which “found that the DVLA was too rigid when deciding that his evidence didn’t prove he was entitled to ride motorbikes,” the Ombudsman says. Additionally, the Ombudsman says it found that the DVLA’s record keeping was “flawed in this case.”

As a result of the PHSO’s findings, it was able to request the DVLA apologise to Mr. Olsen, refund the £70 it had cost him to cancel his insurance, and compensate him £1000.The PHSO “also asked the DVLA to use their discretion to reinstate his entitlement to drive a motorbike,” it said.

The Ombudsman says that all of the requests were complied with by the DVLA. 

Paul, who lives in Surrey, said: “I’m delighted at the outcome because I was so fed up with the DVLA being unreasonable.

“Riding motorcycles is the mechanical equivalent of riding a horse; you’re out there on your own in nature. It’s just you and your mechanical steed.
“I live in a beautiful part of the world and go out for two or three hours just riding. It’s simplicity itself, a very personal experience.”

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “It was clear to both us and the ICA that a mistake had been made. When that happens, organisations should acknowledge what has gone wrong and take steps to put that right.

“Unfortunately, the DVLA did not do that and were inflexible in handling Mr Olsen’s complaint. I’m delighted we were able to resolve Mr Olsen’s case and have his motorbike entitlements reinstated so he can enjoy his passion for biking.”

Paul currently owns three classic bikes: Kawasaki W650, Triumph Bonneville, and Triumph Sprint, in addition to a Vespa. He is a graphic designer, and has worked on films such as Star Trek, Terminator 2, and Die Hard.

Lead image courtesy of Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman.

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