Police have yet to speak to a taxi driver who picked up the suspect after a woman was raped in Edinburgh.
The 33-year-old had been out in Leith and was walking home on Anderson Place when she was attacked just after midnight on Sunday.
The man, who had a skateboard, stopped the woman and asked her for directions to Ferry Road before ushering her on to the path leading to the Water of Leith walkway, where he carried out the sex attack.
Detectives investigating the case are keen to speak to a taxi driver who picked up the suspect on Ferry Road, at the corner of Newhaven Road, after the attack.
The taxi driver is yet to come forward and police believe he can help with their investigation.
Detective chief inspector Martin MacLean told STV News: "We're appealing for that taxi driver to come forward, he or she has not thus far.
"So please, if you're the taxi driver and you made a pick-up in this area of Ferry Road at the corner of Newhaven Road - please get in touch.
"Our male was carrying a skateboard which is very unusual for that time of night."
The suspect is described as white, between 18 and 24, around 5ft 8in with a slim build with short brown hair close cropped at the back and sides, dark stubble and prominent dark circular earring in one or both ears.
In addition, he was wearing a camouflage patterned hooded jacket, blue jeans and trainers.
He had earphones and was wearing a rucksack on his back and was carrying or using a skateboard.
The suspect is thought to have a possibly Irish accent, although this is not certain, and he seems not to know Edinburgh well.
Transport for London has renewed Uber’s private hire vehicle operator’s licence for a period of four months.
GMB, the union for private hire and taxi drivers, will seek to engage in any discussion process during the short term renewal period to ensure TfL force Uber to guarantee safe working practices and basic employment rights, such as minimum wage and holiday pay before they renew a five-year licence.
Steve Garelick, GMB Branch Secretary said: “TfL are aware of GMB concerns on the renewal of Uber’s private hire vehicle operator’s licence and have ignored the issue. They have simply kicked it in to the long grass by granting a four-month extension.
“TfL have not listened to GMB concerns and they are ducking the issue, showing a distinct lack of courage by not imposing any conditions.
“TfL are prepared to continue to ignore the concern of the trade as a whole.”
Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, said: “We are disappointed that TfL have tried to kick this issue into the long grass. Whether it is this week or in four months’ time, GMB will ensure that TfL are obliged to deal with the very real concerns of drivers, passengers and the public in respect of working conditions at Uber.”
Driverless cars are coming to British motorways in 2019 and will travel autonomously between the cities of London and Oxford.
According to CNET, the UK government recently unveiled plans to accelerate its autonomous driving efforts by investing £13 million in multiple projects to help it fulfil its ambition to become a world leader in getting the futuristic tech on the roads.
Driven, a consortium led by Oxford Robotics Institute spinout Oxbotica, received a hefty £8 million chunk of the money. Oxbotica is already conducting self-driving pod trials in London, but the consortium is working towards getting driverless cars - with a backup driver inside for safety - travelling long distances on British motorways within the next 30 months.
In the meantime, extensive tests will take place at RACE, a robotics centre in Oxfordshire run by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which boasts ten kilometres of roads, junctions, roundabouts, as well as traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.
“Driven is important because it will answer questions around cyber security and insurance as well as the underlying technology,” said RACE Director Rob Buckingham in a statement. The Driven consortium includes insurer XL Catlin, which will assess the risks involved in each stage of the testing.
Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programmes, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct.
The PR disasters culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick resigning from the company this week and promises of bold reform that largely ignored the ride-hailing company’s strained relationship with drivers.
The Guardian lists a timeline of some of the most consequential controversies.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick faced backlash for a sexist joke about his increasing desirability, telling an Esquire reporter: “We call that Boob-er.”
Uber faced accusations that it booked thousands of fake rides from its competitor Lyft in an effort to cut into its profits and services. Uber recruiters also allegedly spammed Lyft drivers in an effort to recruit them away from the rival.
Uber executive Emil Michael suggested digging up dirt on journalists and spreading personal information of a female reporter who was critical of the company. He later apologised. It was also revealed that Uber has a so-called “God View” technology that allows the company to track users’ locations, raising privacy concerns. One manager had accessed the profile of a reporter without her permission.
A former forensic investigator for Uber testified that employees regularly spied on politicians, exes and celebrities, including Beyoncé.
Regulators in California ordered Uber to remove self-driving vehicles from the road after the company launched a pilot without permits. On the first day of the programme, the vehicles were caught running red lights, and cycling advocates in San Francisco also raised concerns about the cars creating hazards in bike lanes. The company blamed red-light issues on “human error”, but the New York Times later claimed that the company’s statements were false and that the autonomous technology failed.
Uber was forced to pay $20m to settle allegations that the company duped people into driving with false promises about earnings. The Federal Trade Commission claimed that most Uber drivers earned far less than the rates Uber published online in 18 major cities in the US.
A #DeleteUber campaign went viral after the company lifted surge pricing during a taxi protest at a New York airport against Donald Trump’s travel ban. A total of roughly 500,000 users reportedly deleted accounts after the scandal erupted.
CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from Trump’s advisory council after users threatened a boycott. Kalanick said: “Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”
Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler went public with allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, prompting the company to hire former US attorney general Eric Holder to investigate her claims. The story sparked widespread debate about sexism and misconduct across Silicon Valley startups.
Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s self-driving programme Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google’s parent corporation Alphabet, filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing the startup of “calculated theft” of its technology. The suit, which could be a fatal setback for Uber’s autonomous vehicle ambitions, alleged that a former Waymo employee, Anthony Levandowski, stole trade secrets for Uber. Uber later fired the engineer.
The New York Times reported that Uber for years used a tool called Greyball to systematically deceive law enforcement in cities where the company violated local laws. The company used Greyball to identify people believed to be working for city agencies and carrying out sting operations, the Times reported. The revelations led to the launch of a federal investigation.
Kalanick was caught on camera arguing with his own Uber driver, who complained about the difficulty making a living with the company’s declining rates. The embattled CEO yelled at the driver: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. ... They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” He later issued an apology and said he intended to get “leadership help”.
Tech news site the Information reported that a group of senior employees, including Kalanick, visited an escort and karaoke bar in Seoul in 2014, leading to an HR complaint from a female marketing manager. Patrons at the bar typically select women to sing karaoke with before taking them home.
News leaked of a secret programme that Uber internally called “Hell” that allowed the company to spy on its rival Lyft to uncover drivers working for both companies and to help steer them away from the competitor.
Uber agreed to pay drivers in New York City tens of millions of dollars after admitting it underpaid them for more than two years by taking a larger cut of fares than it was entitled. The average payout per driver is expected to be about $900.
Uber revealed that it had fired more than 20 employees following an investigation into the sexual harassment claims and workplace culture.
Reports revealed that a top Uber executive had obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver, allegedly to cast doubt upon the victim’s account. The executive, Eric Alexander, was fired after journalists learned of the incident, according to tech website Recode and the New York Times. The woman later sued the company for violating her privacy rights and defaming her. A vigil in Delhi held in support of a woman who was raped by her Uber driver in the Indian capital
Kalanick announced that he would take an indefinite leave of absence as the company released a damning report on workplace culture that recommended Uber “review and reallocate” the CEO’s responsibilities. He has now resigned.
David Bonderman resigned from Uber’s board after he made a sexist joke during an all-staff meeting about reforming the company and combatting sexual harassment. The venture capitalist had joked that there was “likely to be more talking” with another woman on the board. He apologised and stepped down hours later.
Uber’s embattled CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from the ride-sharing company he helped found in 2009, following a “shareholder revolt” led by some of Uber’s most prominent investors, according to the New York Times.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that Kalanick has stepped down in the face of pressure from five of Uber’s largest investors, including Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Fidelity Investments – all of whom demanded Kalanick’s resignation in a letter titled “Moving Uber Forward”.
Kalanick said: “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”
According to the Guardian, the resignation came just one week after Kalanick began an indefinite leave of absence amid efforts to bring about wholesale change of Uber’s corporate culture.
Kalanick will continue to hold a position on Uber’s board of directors, according to a statement from the board given to TechCrunch. “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber. By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history. We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board.”
Kalanick said in a letter to Uber employees: “I need to take some time off from the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.” This followed the sudden death of his mother in a boating accident.
Following his leave, Kalanick had put day-to-day leadership in the hands of several employees who had reported directly to him. With Kalanick’s resignation, Uber is now missing a CEO, COO, CFO, CMO and a host of other critical high-level positions following months of seemingly endless executive departures.
Though Uber had long had a reputation for defying rules and regulations, perhaps most damaging were the numerous reports of the company facing a crisis in February when a former employee published a viral blog post describing a work place rife with gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Uber enlisted former US attorney general Eric Holder to conduct an investigation into the company’s workplace culture, the results of which were released a week before Kalanick’s resignation.
Uber continues to face challenges on multiple fronts, including an intellectual property lawsuit by Google parent company Alphabet that could pose an existential threat to Uber’s future. Uber is also under investigation for its use of a programme designed to deceive law enforcement in cities where its service was barred.
In his analysis of the situation, Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter in Uber’s home city San Francisco, stated: “Surely the most dramatic fall from grace the start-up world has ever seen, a scalp so big it will have chief executives across this city sitting bolt upright, and thinking: ‘If Travis can get booted out of Uber... no-one is safe.’
“What started out as a PR inconvenience has left the company without... five top officers. Uber is in tatters, engulfed by its own aggression.
“Mr Kalanick embodied his company’s prevailing attitude: success at all costs. It saw Uber dominate the ride-sharing world, his chutzpah enabling the company to attract investment so effectively that last year Uber alone raised more money than the entire UK start-up scene.
“But in doing so he didn’t play fair. He created a company that deceived local regulators, neglected the well-being of employees, wound up drivers, troubled investors, obtained a rape victim’s medical records and allegedly stole trade secrets from a rival.
“All this time Uber’s investors will have been weighing things up. What’s more risky to their investment: removing the man who made Uber what it is, or keeping him on? For the first time it’s become the latter – and Mr Kalanick is out the door.”