A TAXI firm has apologised to a passenger after a driver refused to transport her because she was carrying cans of beer in her shopping.

Royal Cars, based in Cowley Road, were called to pick up Helen Russell from the Sainsbury’s supermarket at the Westgate Shopping Centre, in central Oxford and drop her in Abingdon Road, at a friend’s house.

However, when the driver saw her shopping contained two cases of lager, he refused to take her claiming it was against his religion.

Royal Cars manager Niaz Mohammed said he was aware of the incident and that he had apologised to Mrs Russell, who was picked up and taken to her destination by another driver.

He said it was not company policy to refuse customers carrying alcohol.

Mrs Russell, who had to wait 20 minutes for another taxi, said she did not know what religion the driver belonged to, but the 49-year-old said she felt like she had offended him.

She said she believed the driver’s religion should not affect his job.

The teaching assistant, of Kingfisher Green, Greater Leys, said: “He said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t take you because it’s against my religion’. He was looking at the alcohol.

“I thought, ‘What difference does it make if I’ve got alcohol?’ I just couldn’t believe it. I’m a regular customer and never have I had this before.

“A lot of people I’ve spoken to about this say people shouldn’t use religion as an excuse for anything. This country is going to pot. It’s all about religion.”

Mrs Russell, a Roman Catholic, added: “How can society allow this to happen? I just can’t accept it.”

Mr Mohammed said he had spoken to the driver involved and made the company’s policy clear to him.

He added: “He is one of the new drivers. I think it was his first or second day and he didn’t realise that he had to pick up shoppers that carry alcohol, but he will do in future.”