A Nottingham taxi driver has lost his licence after refusing to give a lift to a blind man with a guide dog.
Mohammed Saghir, who pleaded guilty at Derby Justice Centre in December for failing to pick up a customer, had his licence revoked following a review by Nottingham City Council.
The incident happened on June 24 last year when Mr Saghir, aged 59, of Sneinton Boulevard, drove out to a pub near Trent Bridge to take home passenger, Mark Whittle and his wife Catherine, who is partially-sighted.
Mr and Mrs Whittle had taken part in the Great Notts Bike Ride on a tandem that day and had eaten a meal afterwards before booking the taxi.
Mr Saghir arrived at the venue and sent a text to indicate that he was waiting outside. But when Mr and Mrs Whittle left the pub with guide dog Archer, he drove off.
Mr Whittle rang the City Council to complain and an investigation was launched. This resulted in Mr Saghir being taken to court and him pleading guilty to refusing to pick up a fare.
He was fined £210 with a £30 victim surcharge and £236.17 costs.
A City Council review then took place of his Hackney carriage and private hire driver’s licence which has resulted in it being indefinitely revoked. Mr Saghir will need to reapply for a licence in the future and be able to demonstrate that he is fit and proper to return to taxi driving.
Mr Whittle said: “I was really angry about what happened. We’d gone outside and it was only when a member of the public approached to ask if we were waiting for a taxi – and told us it was driving away – that we realised the driver had left.
“I called the cab firm and they got the driver on the phone but despite them saying to him that he had to take us, he was adamant that he wouldn’t have the dog in his car.
“I’m sorry that he’s lost his licence because that’s his livelihood, but he’s only got himself to blame. When he signed up to become a taxi driver, he should know the rules and regulations – in this case, he can’t refuse to accept an assistance dog.
“It makes you worry what could happen if it was a young girl with a guide dog waiting for a taxi, which turned up only to drive off. I’m keen to raise awareness of this because I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
Councillor Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection at Nottingham City Council, said: “We were shocked to hear of Mr Whittle’s experience and immediately investigated. It would appear that the taxi driver, for whatever reason, did not want to carry a guide dog in his car.
“Under the Equality Act, guide dog and other assistance dog owners have the right to enter the majority of services, premises and vehicles with their dog. This includes taxis, and for Mr Whittle and his wife to be left standing at the side of the road is totally unacceptable.
“This prosecution is an important result for the City Council and reinforces a strong message to taxi drivers that we expect the highest standards at all times. Our Driver Improvement Penalty Point System (DIPPS) was introduced in April 2017 and since then we have sanctioned 56 drivers for infringements of that code of conduct.”
Nottingham City Council’s taxi licensing team can be contacted on 0115 915 6571.