Uber offices. Picture: REUTERS
Uber offices. Picture: REUTERS

London — Uber has hired a one-time adviser to former British prime minister David Cameron to lead the ride-hailing company’s lobbying efforts in northern Europe, less than a month after the company won a reprieve to operate in London.

The US company has appointed Adam Atashzai as its head of policy for northern Europe, which includes the UK and countries in the Nordics and Benelux, an Uber spokesman said, adding that his role will include engaging with governments, academics and charities.

The appointment of Atashzai comes after Uber moved to improve strained relations in the British capital as it faced the threat of a ban in its most important European market.

Atashzai is a partner at Finsbury, a PR firm owned by WPP, and was previously deputy political director to Cameron. He left politics following Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the June 2016 EU referendum and joined Finsbury later that year. He did not respond to an e-mail or voicemail requesting comment.

Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence in September 2017, citing failings in the company’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and to driver background checks. This prompted Uber to promise to "make things right in London", and in June it scored a partial victory when it secured a 15-month probationary licence to operate in the city after it overhauled its policies and personnel in Britain.

The licence is far shorter than the five-year licence Uber was denied in 2017 and is subject to strict conditions.

Dara Khosrowshahi was appointed as Uber’s CEO in August 2017 and tasked with repairing the company’s relationships with investors and revamping its image after a series of controversies, including clampdowns by regulators around the world.

The ride-hailing app company operates in more than 600 cities and has a track record of turning to former officials to help it navigate transport regulations as they develop. In 2014, it hired David Plouffe, who was a political adviser to US president Barack Obama, and in 2016 it set up a public policy advisory board of former officials, politicians and business executives.