A TAXI driver has been fined £500 for refusing to let a partially-sighted woman’s guide dog into his cab.

Shammus Mohammed Afzal admitted breaching the Equality Act when he appeared before magistrates.

The court heard the 26-year-old had been called to pick-up a partially-sighted woman from Helen & Douglas House Hospice charity shop in Magdalen Road on June 17.

But when he arrived he refused to let the dog into his taxi with its owner because he claimed it was “dirty”.

The woman took another cab half an hour later to go to Oxford Station.

The matter was reported to Vale of White Horse District Council, the authority which issued Afzal’s licence.

The law states that guide dogs must be allowed to travel with registered users unless the taxi driver has an exemption.

Afzal, of Clive Road, Cowley, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Monday where he was fined £500 – reduced from £1,000 because of his guilty plea.

He was also ordered to pay £300 court costs and £100 compensation.

Guide Dogs’ engagement officer Joel Young said partially-sighted and blind people rely on public transport.

He added: “Incidents such as this are very distressing for any guide dog owner.

“We hope this case reminds service providers of their legal obligations regarding access for people with sight loss and their guide dogs.”

Vale legal democratic services leader councillor Sandy Lovatt branded Afzal’s excuse of the dog being dirty as “lame” and said he had a legal duty to pick up the animal and its owner.

He added: “The law is very clear. If someone requires a guide dog then it must be allowed to travel with them unless they have an exemption.

“In this case the driver made some fairly lame excuses. However, as pointed out by the magistrate, even if the dog had been dirty he would have still had a legal requirement to allow it in his vehicle and he should have been aware of that and had blankets available.”