1. ITV Report

Private hire driver fined for refusing blind passenger

A guide dog. Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/DPA/PA Images

A private hire driver has been fined by the courts for refusing a passenger, who is blind, because they had a guide dog.

Hidayat Qahar had accepted a job collecting a passenger from Middlesbrough Railway Station to take her to her home in the town knowing the additional requirements of the fare.

However, when he arrived Qahar stated that he wouldn’t be able to transport the passenger because she had a dog. He then drove away leaving the passenger stranded.

After taking advice from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association the passenger complained to Middlesbrough Council who, following investigations, brought a prosecution under the Equality Act 2010, which makes it an offence for a driver of a private hire vehicle to refuse to carry a passenger accompanied by an assistance dog.

The matter was heard at Teesside Magistrates Court, where 29-year-old Qahar, of Monkland Close, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to the offence.

He was fined £40 with a £30 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £200 costs.

It is unacceptable behaviour on the part of the driver and is something which will not be tolerated by the Council.

Drivers have a duty to assist all passengers with all disabilities and it is hoped that this prosecution acts as a deterrent to other drivers.

I understand that the driver will now be spoken to by officers and that the Council will be reviewing his suitability to hold a licence.

– Cllr Julia Rostron

The charity Guide Dogs is working to give people with sight loss the confidence and skills they need to live the life they choose. It is always very distressing to hear that one of our guide dog owners has been refused access to a taxi because of their guide dog.

A recent survey found that 42% of assistance dog owners were turned away by a taxi or minicab in the last year because of their dog. This is against the law.

Disability equality training for all taxi and minicab drivers will help them understand the rights and needs of disabled people and will help to reduce the number of guide dog owners who are turned away.

– Linda Oliver, Guide Dogs North East