Leicester

Leicester taxi driver bars blind man and guide dog for religious reasons

Media captionA taxi firm is criticised for refusing to pick up a man with his guide dog

A blind man was barred from using a taxi by a driver who took religious exception to his guide dog.

Charles Bloch, 22, was with his girlfriend and dog Carlo on Friday when he was told by a taxi driver he could not take the dog for religious reasons.

It is the second time this year Mr Bloch has been refused a taxi because of his dog but this time his girlfriend shared a video of it on social media.

ADT Taxis admitted its driver broke the law and he has since been sacked.

Image copyright De Montfort University
Image caption The video of the driver's refusal has been shared on social media more than 20,000 times

Commenting on the case, Leicester City Council said religion was "not a sensible excuse" and drivers are told about the law on their licence and during exams.

"It's extremely frustrating," said Mr Bloch, a student at De Montfort University in Leicester. "But, it's a very common thing and happens a lot."

Mr Bloch has deteriorating eyesight due to glaucoma and in April was refused a ride by an Uber driver who also cited religious reasons.

"I have no hatred towards the driver and his religion, and I would respect that if the law wasn't there, but the law is there to help people be more integrated into the community," he said.

Guide dogs and the law

Image copyright De Montfort University

Under the Disability Discrimination Act, it is illegal for a private hire vehicle to refuse to take a disabled person because they have an assistance dog, nor can they charge more.

Anyone found guilty of an offence under the act is liable to a fine.

Assistance dogs are defined as dogs trained to guide someone who is blind, deaf, epileptic or suffers a condition which affects mobility.

Drivers can apply to a licensing authority for exemption from carrying assistance dogs, but only on medical grounds.

Source: UK Government

ADT Taxis posted a statement on its Facebook page, saying it was "deeply ashamed" by the driver's conduct.

A city council spokesman said: "Drivers are legally required to accept bookings from passengers with assistance dogs unless the driver has a medical exemption certificate.

"We're not aware of any taxi drivers in Leicester to which this applies."

He said they were considering whether to revoke the driver's licence and had contacted Mr Bloch with regards to legal action being taken.

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