Published: Monday, 4th Oct 2021

A taxi driver who refused to pick up a passenger and his guide dog has been prosecuted.

Sajjad Robani, who failed to attend Bolton Magistrates Court on September 22, was convicted in his absence of violating The Equality Act 2010.

He was fined £440 and handed costs of £200.  

Mr Robani, an Uber driver, refused to pick up Callum Stoneman and his guide dog Iggy on a journey in Bolton on February 12, 2020.

The delay in prosecution was due to the backlog of court cases caused by the pandemic.    

In a statement, Mr Stoneman and an independent witness both stated that the driver saw the dog, who was wearing his harness, and told Mr Stoneman, “no dogs”.

In his statement, Mr Robini said he did not see anyone waiting at the pick-up address nor did he see any assistance dog so proceeded to drive off.

Following the court case, Mr Stoneman said: “I completely understand drivers who don’t want to carry pet dogs in their car, and I have no problem with that, that’s their choice.

“However, when it comes to guide dogs or any other kind of assistance dog, it’s a completely different matter.

“I didn’t have Iggy with me ‘just because’ that day, I had her with me because I rely on her to get around independently. It’s incredibly frustrating and humiliating to be denied something as basic as a taxi, just for having an assistance dog (my eyes) with me.

“Unfortunately, this happens far too often to blind people with guide dogs, and it needs to stop.”

Under the 2010 Equality Act, a driver cannot refuse to take a disabled person and their dog.

It is also an offence if they make any additional charge for letting the dog remain with the owner.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, Cllr Hilary Fairclough said: “It’s unacceptable for anyone to be discriminated against in this manner.

“Taxi drivers have a legal obligation to accept assistance dogs in their vehicles unless they have a medical condition which prevents them from doing so. In such cases an exemption certificate is issued.

“Drivers are made aware of their obligations towards passengers in their driver training.”