Private Hire driver ordered to pay over £2,000 for refusing to take guide dog

A private hire driver from Telford has been ordered to pay more than £2,300 by a court for refusing to take a blind man’s guide dog. Zaheer Mahmood, 48, was found guilty at a trial of the offence under the Equality Act 2010. The court heard how Mahmood was pre-booked to pick up Mrs Bright and her partner Mr Bowers, who is blind, from Wellington train station along with their guide dog Isca. Mrs Bright confirmed in court that when ordering the cab, she stated to the operator that they had a guide dog that would be travelling with them. When Mahmood arrived and saw that he was to take the dog in the vehicle, he refused. Mrs Bright was left with no other choice but to order another minicab from the same operator. Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing service investigated the claims which resulted in criminal proceedings being brought against Mahmood. It is an offence to refuse to take an assistance dog in a private hire vehicle under the Equality Act 2010, but Mahmood denied this ever happening. As reported in the Shropshire Star, Mahmood defended his actions claiming that he refused the job because he had earlier that day purchased two part worn tyres which were in the boot of his vehicle leaving no room for the two cases that were brought by Mrs Bright and Mr Bowers. Mahmood claimed that he informed the operator of the lack of space had requested that another vehicle be sent, but an investigation found that during that phone call Mahmood didn’t mention anything about having tyres in his boot and confirmed that his complaint was about having to take a dog in his vehicle. In a recording obtained by officers, Mahmood could be heard saying to his operator “you send me job in train station, and they go with a dog as well, you not tell me about dogs”. Having listened to all evidence, District Judge Jackson said that he found it hard to believe Mahmood and sided with Mrs Bright. Mahmood was found guilty of the offence and fined £300. He was also ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and prosecution costs of £2,000.

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