Telford cabbie fined for refusing man with assistance dog
A taxi driver who refused to let a hearing-impaired man into his car with his assistance dog has been ordered to pay out more than £1,000.
Naman Yaqub, who drives for Diamond Cars, may also now be stripped of his taxi licence by Shropshire Council after he rejected Tom Kane and his cocker spaniel Harley.
A change in the law in 2017 means it is illegal for taxi drivers to refuse to carry passengers with wheelchairs or assistance/guide dogs.
Mr Kane, who struggles to hear after years of working around aircraft, walked with Harley up to the witness box to give evidence during the case at Telford Magistrates Court.
The court heard that when Yaqub, 44, arrived to pick up Mr Kane, his dog and friend Robert Hilton from the Royal British Legion in Station Road, Dawley, Telford, on August 3 last year, he locked his doors, said: “No dog,” then drove off.
The pair had been at the club for a couple of drinks, and had called for the taxi to come just after 11pm.
The defendant claimed that he did not receive information that Mr Kane’s dog was an assistance animal and offered to return to pick them up.
But Mr Hilton said in court that he made it clear to the phone operator and the driver that his friend had a dog to help him.
He said: “Harley was wearing a coat for the hard of hearing and his lead. As I was approaching the taxi, he locked the doors. I spoke to the driver and all I heard was ‘no dog’.
"I said that we had ordered a taxi for my friend with his assistance dog, but he said he was going to Wellington and drove off.”
Yaqub claimed that the dog was wearing nothing to indicate that it was an assistance animal, and that he had no message from the Diamond Cars control room to let him know.
A statement from the company said that there was no need for them to inform the driver before they arrive.
District Judge Nigel Cadbury found Yaqub, of Aintree Close, Leegomery, Telford, guilty of failing or refusing to carry out a booking for a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog.
He ordered Yaqub to pay a £375 fine, £750 in court costs and a £37.50 victim surcharge.
But he also said of Diamond Cars not informing drivers of fares involving assistance dogs: “That’s probably not a very good way of doing things. I hope the council take that up with Diamond Cars and take that into account when deciding whether to take away his taxi licence.”
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