A cabbie was shamed over refusing to carry a blind passenger and her guide dog when he was hauled before the courts.
Hackney carriage driver Rajesh Kumar Punni was fined £300 and ordered to pay £741 court costs.
Both the victim and fellow taxi drivers testified against Punni at St Albans Magistrates Court on May 6.
The court heard that Punni refused to pick up the passenger while waiting on the town centre taxi rank in Hemel Hempstead on December 8 last year.
The case was brought after his victim complained to Dacorum Borough Council’s licensing department.
Other cabbies witnessed the incident, with one of them taking the victim to her destination.
Punni who initially claimed, when interviewed by enforcement officers, that he had not realised that the dog was a guide dog or that the passenger was blind.
He was found guilty of failing to carry an assistance dog, and refusing a fare from a taxi stand.
Under the Equality Act 2010, taxi and private hire drivers cannot refuse to carry a passenger with an assistance dog, unless they have been issued with an exemption certificate by the council due to a serious medical condition and are displaying this in their vehicle.
Assistance dogs must be carried in the main passenger compartment with their owner, as separation may cause distress both to the dog and to its owner.
Ross Hill, licensing team leader for Dacorum Borough Council, said, “It is not acceptable the visually impaired should be discriminated against and put at a disadvantage.
“I am pleased that the council’s licensing officers were able to bring these matters to court and were able to send out a powerful message to other taxi drivers.”