Restaurant fined £2,000 for refusing to let in blind man with guide dog

John Hardy was told having his dog in the establishment would be "unhygienic".

John Hardy was awarded £2,000 in compensation. (SWNS)
John Hardy was awarded £2,000 in compensation. (SWNS)

An Indian restaurant has been forced to pay £2,000 to a blind man who was refused entry for a family meal due to having a guide dog.

Bengal Spice was ordered to pay John Hardy compensation after he said he was told having his dog Sidney in the establishment would be "unhygienic".

The 66-year-old added he was upset further when a staff member began to speak to his son instead of him as the situation intensified.

As a result of the conversation, he and his wife, son and granddaughter decided to leave the restaurant in Williton, Somerset, in September 2021.

John Hardy and his guide dog Sidney. (SWNS)
John Hardy and his guide dog Sidney. (SWNS)

After taking legal advice and speaking to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), John launched a lawsuit.

Following a one-day hearing at Taunton County Court last month, a judgment was awarded in his favour.

Under the Equality Act 2010, restaurants and other service providers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting people with disabilities at a substantial disadvantage.

A guide dog is classed as a reasonable adjustment under the Act.

John said: “I tried to explain that I was blind and Sidney was a guide dog but he wouldn’t listen and said it was unhygienic to have a dog near the kitchen.

“I eat out quite a bit and everybody knows Sidney locally, but when you walk into somewhere new, you are anxious and hyper aware, wondering if you will have to present your argument and explain why a guide dog is allowed into a restaurant."

His lawyer Emily Monastiriotis added: “We are really pleased to have assisted Mr Hardy in successfully bringing a claim in respect of the discrimination he encountered on this occasion but we are aware of the ongoing discrimination faced by people living with a disability.

“We hope this sends a strong message that discrimination is unacceptable and reminds businesses of their obligations under the Equality Act 2010.”

Anita Marshall, specialist lead in RNIB’s legal rights service, said: “Unfortunately, cases of guide dog refusals like John experienced continue to be far from unusual, with restaurants and other service providers often oblivious to or ignoring the legislation.”