Driver claimed carrying dog was 'against his religion'
A TAXI driver who said religion forbade him from carrying a blind man and his guide dog has been fined.
Ali Reza Roshanmoniri later said he was allergic to animal hair and did not realise he needed a certificate making him exempt from carrying guide dogs.
The taxi was booked with Cable Cars, based in Beeston, for Christopher Odell, a voluntary counsellor who had been working at Sunnyside School in Chilwell.
The job was accepted by the firm, but when Roshanmoniri arrived at the school on the afternoon of August 27 he refused to take Mr Odell and his dog.
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This broke the conditions of the licence he was granted by Broxtowe Borough Council, who yesterday prosecuted Roshanmoniri for failing to carry a disabled person with a dog, an offence under the Disability Discrimination Act.
John Cunliffe, representing the council, told Nottingham Magistrates Court: "Most of the operators are aware that Mr Odell is blind and accompanied by his guide dog.
"On seeing Mr Odell's guide dog he said it was against his religion to carry dogs in his vehicle. It was explained to him that the dog was a working dog and could not be refused carriage."
The member of staff who ordered the taxi phoned Cable Cars, who immediately sent another taxi and said the driver would be taken off for the rest of the day.
She later made a complaint to Broxtowe Borough Council, who confirmed that the driver had been suspended.
In the meantime, Roshanmoniri obtained a letter from his GP saying he has an allergy to dogs, and hand-delivered it to the licensing officer at Broxtowe Borough Council.
The licence Roshanmoniri was previously granted said the carrying of pets is normally at a driver's discretion, but drivers have to carry 'assistance dogs' such as those for deaf or blind people.
Drivers may apply to the council for an exemption on medical grounds, but Roshanmoniri had not done this.
No checks were made to ascertain if Roshanmoniri was a Muslim – Islam generally considers dogs to be unclean.
But Mr Cunliffe said that Muslims are expected to make exceptions for guide dogs and other assistance dogs.
Roshanmoniri, of Sandringham Drive, Bramcote, was fined £300 after responding to a summons with a guilty plea. He will have to pay this, along with £150 in legal costs and a £15 victim surcharge, in 28 days.