A solicitor who set up a copycat DVLA website has had the misfortune of ripping-off a Daily Mail editor.
Simon Button was a commercial property solicitor at Steeles Law when he set up "DVLA Licence Apply". The site charges additional sums to customers for "checking" applications to purchase a driving licence or replace one. The extra fees mean that a new licence priced at £34 on the DVLA's website, ends up costing £91.60 on Button's website. And a replacement licence which costs £20 on DVLA's site, is charged at £77.60 instead.
Button will rue the day that a Daily Mail editor mistook his site for the official DVLA website. In its subsequent expose, the Mail said the "rip-off website lures consumers into paying over the odds for driving licences" and that "repeated emails to its customer support team" went unanswered and the phone line was down for weeks.
The Mail did its thing. "Guess what, he's a privately educated solicitor!" It also pointed out "we found him not at some dishevelled shack in the corner of an industrial estate, but at a respectable law firm in Norwich city centre". In case you were wondering, Button "lives in a three-storey terraced townhouse with a built-in garage on a new estate on the outskirts of Norwich, estimated to be worth around £350,000, and drives an Audi TT sports car".
Colleagues told Simon that his leaving gift was worth £90.
In what sounds like an uncomfortable interview the lawyer "sought to distance himself from the business" saying that he was no longer a director.
According to the Mail, Button later provided a written statement saying "there are notices all over the website stating that it is not affiliated to DVLA".
"The aim is to provide a site that is clear, easier and more convenient to use than the DVLA's website", said Button, and "there is no intention to deceive anyone".
Steeles Law may have disagreed, because within hours the lawyer was no longer an employee.
A spokesman for the firm said, "I can confirm that Simon Button no longer works at Steeles Law. We are not connected to, and do not condone, the behaviour of the website in question."