Beds, Herts & Bucks

Uber driver fined for Watford Junction guide dog refusal

Colin Perreira Image copyright Colin Perreira
Image caption The Uber minicab driver refused to take Colin Perreira and his guide dog Sid in his car

An Uber minicab driver has been fined after a partially-sighted man filmed him refusing to take his guide dog.

Colin Perreira ordered the car at Watford Junction on 27 June but on arrival, the driver would not allow the dog to travel in his car.

Mohammed Hafiz Raja, of Trinity Hall Close, Watford, was found guilty of breaching the Equality Act and fined £850 plus costs.

Uber said refusing to take a guide dog was "totally unacceptable".

Mr Perreira, who is originally from Hemel Hempstead but studies in Devon, regularly makes a 440-mile (708km) round trip from Plymouth to Hertfordshire to see the home-games of non-league Hemel Hempstead Town.

'Fantastic result'

On this occasion, he wanted to get a minicab to his father's house in Kings Langley where he was staying while home from university.

He said he ordered the car on the Uber app and, as he always does now to "protect my rights", he started filming as he approached the minicab.

The driver said he would not take the dog and despite Mr Perreira explaining this was against the law, he drove off.

Image caption Colin Perreira regularly makes a 440-mile (708km) round trip from Plymouth to Hertfordshire

Transport for London brought the case before magistrates on 12 February.

The driver did not attend the hearing or enter a plea at Westminster Magistrate's Court but was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £873, bringing the total amount to more than £1,700.

Mr Perreira said it was the fifth time he had had a case taken to court, resulting in successful convictions each time.

He said he did it for people "who are like me but who would not have that sort of confidence to do it, who would shy away and actually be very upset".

"This is about me sticking up for my community, the guide dog owner community, the visually-impaired community and the wider disabled community," he said.

A spokesman for Uber said: "It is totally unacceptable for drivers to refuse to take a guide dog and we investigate every report.

"Any driver who is found to have refused to take a service animal will permanently lose access to the app."

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