Taxi driver sacked after refusal to take guide dog because it was 'against his religion'

Charles Bloch said he had used ADT Taxis in Leicester before without any issue, but said he is now considering legal action. Credit: ITV News Central

A taxi driver has been sacked after refusing to take a blind man and his guide dog - because he said it was against his religion.

Charles Bloch said he had used ADT Taxis in Leicester before without any issue, but said he is now considering legal action after being left on the side of the road.

A video of the incident, taken by Mr Bloch’s girlfriend Jessica Graham, has reached more than a million views online.

Mr Bloch has a degenerative condition which means his eyesight will continue to worsen, and will increasingly rely on his companion to get around. He walked with a cane until welcoming his Labrador-golden retriever cross Carlo into his life six months ago, straight from guide dog training school.

It’s the second time he has been refused a taxi ride since then.

Darren Green, manager of ADT Taxis, told ITV News Central that the driver no longer worked for the company.

“We are deeply ashamed of the conduct of this Leicester City Council licensed driver, and he clearly broke the law after not accepting a booking we gave to him on religious grounds,” he said.

“He has been dispensed with, as well as being reported to the council.

“If we have drivers reported to us for breaking terms of their license, we cut them off from our bookings system and no longer use their service. The manager is contacting the customer concerned, and will offer him a full apology and some free journeys.”

According to the Guide Dogs charity, Mr Bloch is far from alone.

Their research suggests that three-quarters of assistance dog owners have been refused services or access because of their furry helpers, while almost half have been denied a taxi ride.

Sue Bushell, Birmingham community engagement officer for the Guide Dogs charity, said they had now launched a bid to have illegal refusals treated more strictly.

"It's difficult to describe how much impact it can have on somebody. It can knock people's confidence, it's very frustrating, and people are very often left feeling very vulnerable - and can be left in vulnerable situations,” she said.

The charity's official guidance outlines how the law forbids refusing access to assistance dogs - including for religious or cultural reasons.

Faith leaders have worked with the charity to enshrine these rules into religious law as well.

Suleman Nagdi, of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, said Islam orders people to care for the vulnerable in society - and that this overrides concerns about contact with dogs.

"I'm very sad to hear that a particular individual was discriminated, firstly there's no basis within the faith to discriminate and of course there are legal rulings as well to do with this,” he said.

“On faith, the individual has to be protected, because Islam protects all those who are weak and vulnerable in society, and we talk about the prophet Mohammed who came as a mercy to all of creation.

“This is just individuals making their own interpretation - I would encourage them to speak to religious leaders if they are concerned.”