Muslim taxi driver cites religion and undiagnosed allergy as reason why he refused to take Stevenage blind woman

Sadaqat Ahmed refused to take Siobhan Meade in his taxi because she had a guide dog.

Sadaqat Ahmed refused to take Siobhan Meade in his taxi because she had a guide dog. - Credit: Archant

A Muslim taxi driver left a blind woman on a deserted street at night because he falsely claimed he was allergic to dogs and they were against his religion.

Siobhan Meade with her guide dog Mac

Siobhan Meade with her guide dog Mac - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

Sadaqat Ahmed, 38, was ordered to pay £1,066.85 in fines and costs at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court after he pleaded guilty to refusing to pick up Siobhan Meade and her guide dog from the Lytton Theatre in Vardon Road at 9.15pm on October 22 last year.

After the sentencing, Ms Meade said: “I would like to thank Stevenage Borough Council and in particular Robert Cox for all the work they have put in to prosecuting this case. I look forward to working closely with them to address what has become a serious problem in the town.

“I would also like to thank ABC Taxis for their decisive action in dismissing the driver.

“I bear Mr Ahmed no malice and I hope he now realises how devastating his actions were and that he’ll take the opportunity to join us in educating others.”

After Ahmed, formerly of Stevenage but who now lives in Surrey, refused to take Ms Meade. He told her he would find another driver to pick her up but it would take 20 minutes for them to arrive.

It was a cold evening and luckily she was able to get a lift home.

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Her partner Sean Dilley then phoned Ahmed asking why he wouldn’t take Ms Meade, and their conversation was recorded and given to the borough council when the pair complained about the incident the following day.

Ahmed, who worked for ABC Taxis before being dismissed last year, had a meeting with borough council officers on December 9.

Prosecuting, Mr Sobti said: “The reason he gave for refusing was that he was allergic to dogs. When asked if he had written exemption he replied ‘no’. During the interview he says that in the Muslim religion people do not like dogs but that he knows the laws of this country and knows he must abide by them.”

In his defence Ahmed admitted saying that his religion didn’t like dogs but said that it wasn’t true. He also said he recognised what he had done was wrong and will respect the law in future.

Chair of the bench Keith Smith said: “You have to accept the Equality Act and have to accept people with guide dogs. Hopefully this is a lesson that will go along the taxi rank, that everybody is equal.”