Tyne & Wear

Taxi driver refused blind woman and dog in Durham

A taxi driver who refused to take a blind woman with an assistance dog has been fined after being convicted in his absence.

Muhammad Imran Ashraf initially agreed to take the passenger, at a rank in Durham last December, but drove off when he saw her dog.

Ashraf, 44, of Chestnut Avenue, Newcastle, had denied an offence under the equality act.

Magistrates in Peterlee imposed more than £1,000 in costs and fines.

They found him guilty in his absence and fined him £440 and ordered him to pay £711 in costs and a £44 victim surcharge.

A second driver, who witnessed the incident on Durham Road, agreed to take the fare and was able to send the woman details of the first vehicle.

Owen Clough, Durham County Council's consumer protection manager, said Ashraf was no longer licensed by the council to be a taxi driver.

He said the "vast majority" of drivers comply with the equalities act which makes it illegal to refuse to take an assistance dog.

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