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‘Taxi driver’ put my wheelchair in the boot, says actress Madeley after prepaid payment dispute

Actress Ruth Madeley has recounted how a ‘taxi driver’ took her wheelchair and put it in the boot following a dispute over a prepaid payment outside London's Euston station last month.

The Bafta nominee and Years and Years actress said the driver told her the traffic was too heavy and difficult to drop her at her desired accessible entrance.

TaxiPoint has approached the actress and regulators to confirm whether the vehicle involved was in fact a licensed taxi or a private hire vehicle. Taxi trade officials were quick to highlight that wheelchairs cannot fit in the boot of a black taxi even when folded up.

Image: Boot size of LEVC TX taxi

The actress Ruth Madeley took to Instagram to recount the distressing incident. She wrote: “Last month, on the same day that our new BBC drama about the fight for Disability Rights was officially announced, I had to report my first disability hate incident.

“A taxi driver refused to drop me off at Euston Station's accessible entrance as the traffic was heavy & it would "take too long" & be "too difficult" for him to drive round.

“He instead insisted that I get out & use the inaccessible entrance, as he had seen me stand & so "knew I could walk". When I told him that I can't manage stairs, he proceeded to tell me that it was MY problem not his. As if this wasn't traumatic enough, he demanded his fare even though the journey had been prepaid. When I tried explaining this on the street, he became very agitated &, in sheer frustration, HE TOOK MY WHEELCHAIR from behind me without warning & carried it away to put in the boot of his taxi, leaving me on the side of the road. When I asked for it back, he refused. Thankfully, I wasn't travelling alone & my mum was able to grab my chair from the driver, although he tried his best to stop her. As a disabled women, I never thought I'd have to deal with a situation like this in 2021.

“For me, taking somebody's wheelchair without consent & effectively holding it to ransom, is criminal behaviour.

“When I called the police, the lady I dealt with was just awful. After telling me that the ordeal was not a hate crime & that no criminal act had taken place, I've since learned that she didn't log the incident properly &, as such, my case was dismissed without me knowing. I was shut down & made to feel as though I was making a fuss over nothing.

“Ultimately, after more fighting & asking for support, the police told me that nothing can be done. No warning to the taxi driver or the firm, no accountability, no consequences.

“This kind of s**t is happening to disabled people EVERY SINGLE DAY & it is clear proof that the fight for disability rights is far from over.”

A spokesperson from the United Cabbies Group said: “We know (it’s) impossible to get a folded chair in the boot due to this being full up with our wheelchair ramp & spare.

“We do not treat our passengers in this way and know where the dedicated drop off point is so the lady would have been met and treated properly to get to her train.”

There is confusion whether the vehicle was in fact a private hire vehicle or minicab. Private hire vehicles are standard saloon style vehicle with luggage boot space used on pre-paid booking apps and by operators who require customers to pre-book their journeys.

Black taxis have very little boot space and are not designed to fit luggage. Luggage is instead stored in the front passenger seat area where the seat has been purposely removed for large items such as suitcases and wheelchairs.

Transport for London (TfL) are keen to speak with the actress to learn more about the incident which they are describing as ‘appalling’.

Graham Robinson, TfL’s General Manager for Taxi and Private Hire, said: “This sounds like an utterly appalling incident. We have contacted Ruth for more details so we can carry out a full and urgent investigation.”


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