A taxi driver operating in Sandwell has been found guilty of refusing to take a blind man and his guide dog.
Abdul Khalik, 42 of Crompton Road, Handsworth, refused to take Jason Lane, his guide dog Crispin and two friends from Lane’s home in Bearwood to the city centre on 17 May 2017.
Khalik was found guilty of failure/refusal to carry out a booking made by a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog contrary to sec 170 (3)(b) Equality Act 2010 2010.
The defendant had surrendered his taxi licence after the matter was reported to Sandwell Council's taxi licensing team.
At Walsall Magistrates Court he was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay the local authority’s £1,030 costs plus a £20 victim surcharge.
Lane, 48, is registered blind after losing his sight 11 years ago. He said: “It was really frustrating. I had my 84-year-old mum waiting for me in Birmingham and the taxi was already late – then when he arrived, he literally just drove off.
“The reasons the taxi driver gave for not picking me up were ridiculous – first he said he was allergic and then he said he was scared of dogs.”
He added: “This law has been place for years and taxi drivers should know their responsibilities. If taxi drivers don’t like dogs or are scared of dogs, they’re in the wrong job.
“Disabled people rely on their dogs and by refusing to take my dog in the taxi, he was refusing to take me as well.”
Lane said he had regularly used the taxi company Premier Cars in Langley and had never had a problem travelling with his guide dog before.
According to the council, Khalik denied refusing to have an assistance dog in his car but claimed he was both allergic and frightened of dogs, though he did not have an exemption certificate which would allow him to legally decline to carry an assistance dog.
He reportedly claimed he did not want the dog to sit in the front and that he drove away as there was a car behind him that could not get past.
Sandwell’s cabinet member for public health and protection, Cllr Elaine Costigan, said: “Assistance dogs are vital for the independence of visually impaired people and they deserve to be treated properly – and that includes them being able to travel with their owner in taxis.
“I’d like to thank Jason and his friend David for being very good witnesses and helping the council secure this prosecution - and also Premier Cars who fully cooperated with our taxi licensing team and dismissed the driver when the complaint came to light."