Type=image;ImageID=12247;ImageClass=left;ImageTitle=Ms Nicholls with her guide dog Charlie;TitleClass=strong;
City of Wolverhampton Council successfully prosecuted Samim Yakubi, aged 40, of Hobgate Road, Heath Town, for discriminating against Rita Nicholls contrary to the Equality Act 2010.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard yesterday that Yakubi, a private hire driver for Wednesfield Radio Cars, initially lied about his reasons for failing to allow Ms Nicholls and her dog Charlie into his vehicle.
The taxi had been successfully pre booked through the Wednesfield Radio Cars office on 4 October last year and the company had been informed that Ms Nicholls would be travelling with a guide dog. She had used the company on several prior occasions without any problem.
Yakubi arrived at the arranged pick up location in Market Street, Wolverhampton City Centre, but when he realised Ms Nicholls had a guide dog, he told her there had been a mistake and he was in fact there to collect someone else before driving away and abandoning her.
The incident was observed by a friend who was waiting for a separate taxi and she complained to City of Wolverhampton Council.
Yakubi was interviewed under caution by council officers where he admitted that he had lied to Ms Nicholls and the real reason he drove off was because he was worried the dog would urinate in his car and leave hair on its interior.
He acknowledged that he had no defence and was aware at the time of the offence that he was in breach of both legislation and his licence conditions.
All City of Wolverhampton Council licensed private hire drivers undergo disability awareness training to ensure they are aware of the law and their responsibilities as part of the process of getting a licence.
Magistrates fined Yakubi £80 and ordered him to pay costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £30 after he pleaded guilty to the offence.
Following the conviction, the city council will now carry out a formal review of Yakubi's private hire licence which could lead to him being taken off the road.
Councillor Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council's cabinet member for city environment, said: "This was discrimination plain and simple. I find it despicable that a private hire driver, who is there to provide a service to everyone, would abandon a blind passenger because he didn't want a guide dog in his car.
"Yakubi knew he was breaking the law - all drivers undergo disability awareness training, but he went ahead and did it anyway, motivated by purely selfish reasons.
- released: Friday 3 March, 2017