St Albans taxi driver who refused to take wheelchair user loses appeal
PUBLISHED: 11:44 13 June 2019
The decision to revoke the licence of a taxi driver who would not take a wheelchair user has been upheld by St Albans District Council.
Former Gold Line Taxi driver Majid Hussein Butt, 32, had his hackney carriage driver's licence revoked after his conviction, but appealed against the decision in St Albans Magistrates' Court on Monday, June 10.
Magistrates dismissed the case after ruling the council had acted correctly, and ordered Butt to pay £3,000 towards its costs.
Butt, of Ash Road in Luton, was accused of refusing to take a wheelchair user along with another disabled passenger on a journey from St Albans to Harpenden in July last year.
He pleaded guilty at a hearing in February and was fined £250, as well as a £250 contribution towards the council's costs and a victim surcharge of £30.
This may be the first prosecution of its kind since the requirement to take wheelchair users at no extra cost came into force in April 2017. His licence was revoked shortly after.
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At the appeal hearing, Butt's solicitor Tim Scarisbrick argued that his client had apologised for a one-off offence and that he was genuinely remorseful.
He said at the time of the offence Butt was suffering from a bad back, limiting his ability to give assistance, and that his taxi's ramp was broken.
However magistrates found Butt never produced any evidence of a bad back and said he should have informed the council if his ramp was not working, upholding the decision to withdraw his licence.
After the hearing, Cllr Brian Ellis - chair of the council's licensing and regulatory committee - said: "I'm pleased that this appeal was unsuccessful and the magistrates supported our decision.
"Mr Butt was convicted of a serious offence and it was felt that we had no option but to take away his licence under these circumstances.
"Licensed taxi drivers using accessible vehicles are now forbidden by the law from discriminating against wheelchair users and it is our job to enforce that.
"The vast majority of the district's taxi drivers do an outstanding job and are very helpful to disabled customers. However, this prosecution shows that if we hear of an offence, we will investigate and we will take appropriate action."