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A 48 YEAR old taxi driver from Durham, North East England, has been convicted of a breach of the Equality Act after he refused to let a passenger’s guide dog into his vehicle.

Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court heard that Mohammed Jassin was approached by a couple with an assistance animal at a cab rank on North Road, Durham, in July last year. Mr Jassin said he did not want to take them as they had a dog with them.

The un-named couple told the taxi driver that their animal was a guide dog and that he needed to show them an exemption certificate if he wanted to legally refuse the fare. Jassin said he did not have a certificate, although he claimed he was allergic, and said he could not take a dog in his vehicle.

The 48 year old taxi driver was interviewed by licensing officials at Durham County Council and said that he had apologised to the couple, but that he could not take them because he was allergic to dogs.

The court was told that local authority records showed that Mr Jassin did not have the required exemption certificate and had not applied for one.

Jassin’s solicitor Jonathan Pigford said his client had tried to explain his allergy to the couple but they had ignored him. He also produced evidence that Jassin had an, “ongoing problem with his chest and possible asthma”.

Magistrates did not believe the taxi driver’s defence and fined him £63, plus £220 in legal costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

Durham County Council’s head of health and consumer protection Joanne Waller said:

The Equality Act provides legislation to protect the rights of disabled people. Taxi drivers are duty-bound to take passengers with assistance dogs.

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