In the first case of its kind in London, a taxi driver has been convicted of starting his meter prior to assisting a disabled wheelchair user into his cab.
New laws under the equality act forbid taxi and private hire drivers from charging disabled passengers more than an able bodied passenger, regardless of the amount of time it takes to assist the passenger into the vehicle.
Wheelchair-bound, Emma Wood, became embroiled in a dispute with the cabbie outside Kings Cross Station after the driver started the meter before she had entered the vehicle. The police were called to settle the dispute, however the driver found himself being charged by the police and subsequently convicted by a Magistrates Court for over-charging Ms Wood.
This was the first time that a taxi driver has been prosecuted for this offence since a change in the law preventing drivers from over-charging wheelchair users.
Steve McNamara, General Secretary at the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, has said that an appeal has been lodged at a higher court and that the LTDA will be supporting that appeal.